Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

Read more

#THE 51%

World War One: The war that changed women’s lives

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Ségolène Royal goes for green

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

A look back at some of the Observers' best stories

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults: Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

  • Exclusive: Israel's US ambassador speaks to FRANCE 24

    Read more

  • Live: Israeli soldier feared captured, ceasefire 'over'

    Read more

  • Ugandan court strikes down anti-gay legislation

    Read more

  • Regional summit to tackle deadly Ebola outbreak

    Read more

  • French hospital to open wine bar for terminally ill patients

    Read more

  • €2.5 million in cocaine ‘disappears’ from Paris police HQ

    Read more

  • Appeal court keeps French rogue trader Kerviel in jail

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • Ukrainian army suffers losses in separatist attack

    Read more

  • Dozens killed and injured in Taiwan gas blast

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Volcano eruption forces thousands to evacuate

Video by William EDWARDS

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-29

A volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra has erupted for the first time in 400 years, causing some 18,000 people to flee from their homes after the authorities issued a red alert.

 

AFP - A volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra erupted for the first time in 400 years Sunday, spewing a vast cloud of smoke and ash into the air and sending thousands of people fleeing from their homes.
  
Indonesia issued a red alert after the Sinabung volcano erupted, blanketing the area in thick and acrid black smoke, disaster officials said, although no casualties have yet been reported.
  
"It's clearly dangerous so we've raised the warning to the highest level, or red level," said Surono, head of the nation's volcano disaster alert centre.
  
"From the crater, it shot smoke and volcanic ash 1,500 metres (5,000 feet) into the sky," he told AFP.
  
The 2,460-metre (8,100-foot) Sinabung in northern Sumatra has not erupted for more than 400 years but had shown "some volcanic activity" since Friday, Surono said, adding that they were monitoring the situation.
  
Villagers said they saw lava emerge from the crater around midnight, about 15 minutes before the eruption.
  
"I saw flames flickering, very red right at the top. Previously there was only smoke," Terkilin Sembiring was quoted as saying by Detikcom news website.
  
"At the time, we heard a sound like an aircraft flying past. We thought it was a government official's plane but it turned out that the sound came from the volcano," another villager Maslin Pandia was quoted as saying by Kompas.com news website.
  
Television footage showed black smoke shooting up into the sky and lava overflowing from the crater as residents fled the area in pickup trucks and cars.
  
More than 18,000 people have been evacuated from several affected villages to towns outside a six-kilometre "danger zone", officials said.
  
"The ash has spread to a distance of 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the volcano. Many of the villagers evacuated were farmers and they said the ash had settled on their vegetable farms," search and rescue team official Mohammad Agus Wibisono told AFP.
  
There were however no flight disruptions, Wibisono said.
  
Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono told AFP that many residents in four affected villages at the foot of the volcano had fled immediately after the eruption.
  
"Many had left their homes even before they were evacuated. They said the volcano was spewing thick black smoke, small stones and sulphur. They were so scared they decided to leave their homes and go to the city," Kardono said, adding that a rescue team had been sent to survey the area.
  
"The area is blanketed with thick smoke and there's a strong smell of sulphur," he added.
  
Kardono said while there were no reports yet of any deaths or injuries, "many" had reported breathing difficulties.
  
"We have anticipated that people may have respiratory problems from inhaling dust. So we've given them face masks and are preparing to send in medicines for respiratory infections," he added.
  
The red alert would likely remain for "at least a week" as volcanologists monitor the situation, Kardono said.
  
"There's little data on Mount Sinabung. The eruption took the experts by surprise. We don't know when it might erupt again so, it's best for people to stay away until the experts can determine when it's safe to go home," he added.
  
Antara news agency quoted local police as saying that two people had died from heart attacks. Karo district official Andes Mbaga earlier said one of them had "breathing problems which could have been worsened by the ash and dust floating around".
  
Evacuees from 18 affected villages were "all doing well" and those who complained of breathing problems were receiving medical help.
  
"Villagers are too traumatised to go home but the situation is under control, we have enough tents, food and water," he said, although volcanic activity had reduced significantly.
  
"We're going to stay put here. Mount Sinabung has never spouted so much smoke and at such a high level. We're so scared that it might erupt," villager Edi Ginting told Jawa Pos news website.
  
Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity. It has more active volcanoes than any other country.
  
Earlier this month, four people went missing after the 1,784-metre Mount Karangetang, on the remote island of Siau in North Sulawesi province, erupted.

 

Date created : 2010-08-29

  • INDONESIA

    Powerful earthquake hits Indonesian island

    Read more

COMMENT(S)