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4 volcanoes rumble in Indonesia

September 20, 2012

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Smoke and ash billow from North Maluku Smoke and ash billow from North Maluku’s Gamalama on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Rosa Panggabean)

BANDUNG, Indonesia — Three active volcanoes in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi and another one in North Maluku are rumbling due to the impacts of the recent major earthquake in the neighbouring Philippines, the head of the Vulcanology and Disaster Mitigation Agency, Surono, said Thursday.

 

“All four volcanoes are on alert status now,” Surono said in Bandung.

The three rumbling mountains in North Sulawesi are Mount Soputan in Southeast Minahasa, Mt. Lokon in Tomohon and Mt. Karangetang in the northern part of North Sulawesi, while Mt. Gamalama in Ternate Island grumbled in North Maluku.

Surono explained that the four volcanoes, which were located in one area, had rising levels of activity due to the impact of the Philippine earthquake.

Ash spewed from Mt. Soputan, for example, has been blown by the wind to Bitung. The volcanic ash was released by a volcanic explosion early on Tuesday morning, Surono said. “The explosion on the mountain took place until 2 a.m.,” he added.

The eruption could be heard up to 40 kilometres away. Observers now could not see or record earthquakes there as the explosions were incessant, he said.

Surono said that residents of Bitung City, which is located 50 kilometres to the northeast of Mt. Soputan, reported volcanic ash in the area.

He said that the ash was not dangerous, but residents could protect their respiratory systems by using paper masks.

He also explained that volcanic ash and incandescent materials could be seen up to a height of 1,500 metres. “There are incessant explosions. When the sky is clear, 1/8the volcano’s 3/8 activities can be seen,” he said.

Despite the increase in activity, he said, his office would not recommend nearby residents to evacuate. “The residents live eight kilometres from the crater, so it is still safe,” he said.

A rise in volcanic activity was also noted at Mt. Karangetang. At Mt. Lokon, volcanic activities were accompanied by an explosion on Sunday. “There was also another explosion at Mt. Gamalama and nearby Ternate was blanketed with ash,” he said.

Surono further said that in order to prevent any possible injuries, his agency warned residents not to climb beyond 500 metres above the sea level on Mt. Karangetang.

“This is what we can do as they have for years lived on the slopes of the mountain, where there is fertile soil,” he added.

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