January 27, 2023

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Mount Semeru: Thousands evacuated after volcanic eruption in Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia Eureka News Now —

Indonesia’s Mount Semeru erupted on Sunday, blanketing streets and homes in volcanic ash and prompting the evacuation of nearly 2,000 residents in East Java province, according to the country’s authorities.

A statement by the Indonesian Civil Protection Agency (BNPB) on Sunday said no injuries or deaths have been reported so far and the evacuees have taken refuge in public facilities, including village halls and schools. More than 20,000 face masks have been issued to mitigate respiratory health risks from volcanic ash, she added.

BNPB said the eruption of Mount Semeru, which is about 640 kilometers (400 miles) southeast of the capital Jakarta, began at 2:46 a.m. local time (2:46 p.m. ET Saturday) on Sunday. Videos shared by BNPB showed nearby villages covered in gray ash.

Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, PVMBG, said in a statement that the volcanic activity alert level had been raised to the highest level 4.

The agency warned residents to stay at least 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from the Semeru eruption center, adding that volcanic ash was as much as 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) from the epicenter.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the cloud from the eruption reached 15 kilometers (about 49,200 feet) into the air. The agency said in a statement Sunday that there were no tsunami impacts after the eruption.

Indonesia, an archipelago of 270 million people, lies on the “Ring of Fire,” a band around the Pacific Ocean that triggers frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

At 3,676 meters (12,060 feet), Mount Semeru is the tallest volcano on Java – and one of the most active.

Its eruption last year killed more than 50 people and displaced thousands more.

Mount Semeru: Thousands evacuated after volcanic eruption in Indonesia

Compared to the 2021 eruption, PVMBG chief Hendra Gunawan said the agency sees the potential for a larger volume of magma from Sunday’s eruption.

“Therefore, the hot clouds from Semeru (this year) could reach farther, and there are many dwelling places at that distance,” he said.

Rescue workers monitor the flow of volcanic materials from Mount Semeru eruption in Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia on December 4, 2022.

The eruption in east Java on Sunday follows a series of earthquakes in the west of the island, including one last month that killed more than 300 people.

The deadly November earthquake that struck Cianjur in West Java was a shallow magnitude 5.6 tremor. A much stronger 6.1 magnitude quake in the town of Garut on Saturday caused people to run out of buildings but did no major damage.