Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Indonesia expects more evacuation as volcano erupts

JAKARTA (Xinhua) – More evacuation is expected in coming days after people living near a volcano in North Sulawesi have fled their homes since it erupted Monday, an official said Wednesday.

The authorities have declared a 3.5-kilometer radius dangerous zone around the 1,750-meter-high Mount Lokon.

There has been no big eruption yet since the rising of the alert status. This enables the villagers living near the volcano to flee homes for fear that the volcano is collecting strength for a big eruption, Arnold Poly, senior official of disaster management and mitigation agency in North Sulawesi told Xinhua by phone.

"The mount seems quite now, but we do not know whether it is collecting strength for a bigger explosion or declining seismic activity, therefore many people decide to escape," said Arnold.

Now 2,016 people have fled their homes and live in shelters, he said.

The National Disaster Management Agency estimated over 28,000 people living near the volcano may be affected by the eruption.

Farid Ruskan Bina, an official at the post for monitoring Mount Lokon located 5 kilometers from the volcano, told Xinhua by phone that despite Mount Lokon has not hinted any increasing seismic activity it is better to stay away from the dangerous zone.

He said the volcano last erupted at 07:10 a.m. local time (0110 GMT) Wednesday, the ash shot 150 meters above and moved to the north, he said.

To facilitate more evacuees, local authorities prepare one sport stadium and three school buildings along with logistic and medicine, Arnold said.

The eruption has not caused closure of airport yet, but planes have been warned to avoid the volcano ash, Bambang Ervan, spokesman of Transport Ministry said.

Mount Lokon is one of 129 Indonesia's active volcanos, its last explosion was in 1991 that killed one Swiss hiker and displaced thousands of others.