Indonesia Evacuates 7 Villages as Mount Ibu Erupts

Seven villages were evacuated after two eruptions occurred.

Indonesian authorities evacuated residents from seven villages after Mount Ibu volcano erupted twice on the remote island of Halmahera over the weekend.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Agency (BNPB) stated on May 19 that Mount Ibu first erupted on the eve of May 18, spewing a column of ash up about 2.5 miles above the crater with “thick intensity,” accompanied by flashes of lightning.

A second eruption followed just 24 minutes later, with volcanic ash nearly a mile high and heading toward the northeast region, the agency stated.

These eruptions prompted the deployment of a joint team comprising rescue officials and armed forces to the vicinity of the volcano to evacuate residents from seven nearby villages, according to the agency.

“Temporary data collected by the field team shows that more than 1,000 residents in seven villages were evacuated last night,” the agency said in a separate statement.

BNPB said the evacuation process lasted through May 19 but did not specify the total number of residents evacuated.

No casualties have been reported from the eruption. The agency has also urged people to remain calm and vigilant about the situation.

“This rapid eruption caused panic among residents because the column of ash and the ejection of incandescent lava accompanied by flashes of lightning were clearly visible from all corners of the 7-kilometer [4.35-mile] radius,” it said.

This evacuation comes after Indonesia’s volcanology agency raised the alert level for Mount Ibu to the highest level on May 17 because of multiple volcano eruptions earlier this month.

The alert level remained at Level 4 as of May 20, according to the agency’s website.

The agency advised tourists and residents not to climb or approach Mount Ibu and to wear eye and mouth protection outdoors in case of ash fall.

“As recommended by the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG), upon increasing the highest level of status of Mount Volcano, a radius of 4 kilometers [2.49 miles] from the top of the main crater must be cleared of all types of community activities, including tourists and mountain climbers,” BNPB stated.

Earlier this month, a volcanic eruption on Indonesia’s Mount Ruang caused school closures and covered villages with volcanic debris. Hundreds of people were evacuated, and seven airports, including Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado, were forced to close following the eruption.

People were urged to stay at least four miles from the volcano’s crater. Residents of Tagulandang Island, which is near the volcano, were warned of possible superheated volcanic clouds from a further eruption and a tsunami.


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