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Indonesian Volcano Erupts, Spewing Ash and Forcing Evacuations


Indonesia has been grappling with a volcanic crisis as the Ruang volcano on a remote island in the province of North Sulawesi erupted dramatically. The situation escalated rapidly, prompting authorities to take urgent measures.

Key Points in Volcano Eruption:

  • Airport Closure: In response to the volcanic activity, Indonesian officials shut down a provincial airport in the capital city of Manado. The closure aimed to protect against the showers of ash from the eruption. As a result, budget airline Air Asia canceled flights at nine airports in East Malaysia and Brunei due to safety concerns.
  • Evacuations: More than 800 people were evacuated from the vicinity of the Ruang volcano. The evacuation zone was expanded further after the volcanology agency raised the alert status. Residents scrambled to safety, capturing the fiery-red column of lava, incandescent rock, and ash reaching as high as three kilometers (two miles) into the sky. Videos on social media showed purple flashes of lightning illuminating the erupting volcano.
  • High Alert: The situation prompted the highest alert level declaration. The potential for further eruptions remains significant, and authorities are closely monitoring developments. Falling rocks and ash have already damaged homes and forced a nearby hospital to evacuate.
  • Tsunami Risk: Officials have cordoned off an area within six kilometers (four miles) around the volcano. They are evacuating more residents, including those from the neighboring island of Tagulandang. Additionally, there is a risk of a tsunami if parts of the mountain collapse into the ocean below. Historical records show that a previous eruption of this volcano in 1871 triggered a devastating tsunami that claimed 400 lives.

The situation remains tense, and authorities are urging vigilance. The Ruang volcano’s activity serves as a stark reminder of Indonesia’s geological volatility, where the beauty of its islands is intertwined with the power of its restless earth. The Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) continues to monitor the situation closely.

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