Indonesia issues tsunami warning after more eruptions from Mount Ruang

INDONESIAN authorities have issued a tsunami warning and raised the alert for Mount Ruang to the highest level after the volcano near Sulawesi Island had multiple large eruptions over the past two days, reported a German news agency.

The heightened alert was issued late on Wednesday after the 725m-high volcano had two large eruptions earlier in the day, spewing a column of ash 3,000m into the sky.

Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) head Hendra Gunawan said authorities urged people living in the coastal areas of neighbouring Tagulandang island to remain on alert for a potential tidal surge or tsunami, which could be triggered by rockfalls from the volcano, which may collapse into the sea.

More than 800 people have been evacuated from two villages on Ruang island and authorities have imposed an exclusion zone within a 6km radius of the crater, which extends to the southwestern part of Tagulandang Island.

“Mount Ruang’s eruption spewed ashfall, rocks and gravels that fell 5km away on the coastal areas of Tagulandang Island. Several residents were reported to have been hit by the falling rocks and stones,” said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari.

Indonesian aviation authorities have issued a Notam ordering the closure of Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi about 100 kilometres south of the volcano. The Notam has disrupted flights between Kuala Lumpur and major cities in Sabah and Sarawak, the Malaysian states in the neighbouring island of Borneo, which Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei.

Mount Ruang last erupted in 2002, spewing out pyroclastic flows that damaged the land and local settlements.

The eruptions at Mount Ruang, located in North Sulawesi province, were preceded by volcanic earthquakes in recent days.

There are roughly 500 mountains that dot the Indonesian archipelago, of which 127 are active volcanoes and dozens of them have been showing signs of increased activity. – April 18, 2024

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