JAKARTA, Indonesia ( Associated Press) – The tallest volcano on the most densely populated Indonesian island spewed clouds of fiery gas and lava in a new eruption on Sunday.
Abdul Muhri, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, said the monsoon rains ended and eventually the lava dome atop Mount Semeru, 3,676 meters (12,060 feet) high, collapsed, triggering the eruption. Risk Mitigation of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.
Many towns were covered in ash that hid the sun, although no casualties were reported.
Dense columns of ash rose up to 1,500 m (about 4,000 ft) as hot gas and lava flowed down Semeru’s slopes into a nearby river.
People were advised to stay 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) away from the crater and to avoid the area southeast of the Besuk Kobokan River, located about 13 kilometers (8 mi) from the crater.
Joko Sambang, director of the disaster management agency in Lumajang, East Java province, said hundreds of people, mostly women, children and the elderly, had been moved to temporary shelters or left in safer areas.
Semeru’s last major eruption was in December last year, when the volcano had a massive eruption that killed 51 people in villages that were buried under several layers of soil. Hundreds of people suffered severe burns and the blaze forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 people. The government moved around 2,970 houses out of the danger zone.
Semeru, also known as Mahameru, has erupted several times in the last 200 years. Yet, as with many of Indonesia’s 129 monitored active volcanoes, tens of thousands of people live on its fertile slopes.
Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 270 million people, sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of fault lines where earthquakes and volcanic activity occur frequently.