A remote Indonesian volcano sent a tower of ash spewing into the sky on Friday, after nearly half a dozen eruptions earlier this week forced thousands to evacuate when molten rocks rained down on their villages.
Mount Ruang in Indonesia’s outermost region of North Sulawesi started erupting late Tuesday, stirring a spectacular mix of fiery orange lava, a towering ash column and volcanic lightning.
Officials on Friday morning said Ruang had calmed, but it started to belch ash again hours later after authorities maintained the highest alert level and told residents to stay out of a 6km exclusion zone.
“I was very surprised, the mountain erupted again. We are scared,” said Riko, a 30-year-old resident of neighbouring Tagulandang island.
The country’s volcanology agency said the eruption sent a plume of smoke 1,312 feet above the peak.
“There was an eruption of Mt Ruang, North Sulawesi” at 1706 local time, 0906GMT, it said in a statement.
“The ash column was observed to be grey in colour...leaning towards the south.”
Hundreds of locals on neighbouring Tagulandang island were earlier seen cleaning up volcanic material from the harbour and their yards on Friday morning with the help of soldiers and police officers.
Some described their panic and rush to safety when the eruptions began days ago.
“I evacuated. There was a house. I stayed there. And then it rained and rocks fell,” Ninice Hoata, a 59-year-old teacher in Tagulandang said. Other residents pleaded for more assistance and expressed fears of another eruption before it struck.
“We really need tarpaulin assistance as soon as possible, to temporarily cover the leaking roof,” said 64-year-old Herman Sahoa.
“We are worried there will be a follow-up (eruption) because there is information about that.” The volcanology agency had earlier warned in a statement that the volcanic activity at Ruang was “still high” with potential dangers including flying rocks, hot clouds and lava flows. It advised all residents to wear masks to prevent respiratory issues.
Houses elsewhere could be seen lying empty and electricity was out in parts of the island before Friday’s eruption.
Officials said Thursday that communications had been knocked out on parts of both Ruang and Tagulandang, which is home to around 20,000 people.
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