Volcano re-erupts in Indonesia, triggering panic, massive evacuation
JAKARTA, July 15 (Xinhua) -- A volcano in Indonesia's north Sulawesi province re-erupted at midnight Thursday, triggering panic and massive evacuation of the people living in the dangerous zone of 3.5 kilometers from the volcano, the country's volcanology agency and disaster management agency reported early Friday.
Mount Lokon, which has had several eruptions in recent days, erupted again at 23:30 p.m. (1630 GMT), Thursday, spewing ash by up to 1,500 meters high and spreading hot lava to the slope, Farid Ruskan Bina, a volcanologist monitoring the volcano, told Xinhua.
The eruption triggered panic among residents living in the evacuation zone and forced thousands of them to flee, Furqon Sapid Setianto, an official of the National Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency at the scene, told Xinhua by phone.
It is estimated that the latest eruption has forced some 4,000 people to evacuate, bringing the total number of evacuees to over 7,000 people in recent days, said Arnold Poly, a senior official of the local disaster management and mitigation agency.
Over 1,000 soldiers, policemen, officials and volunteers are helping with the evacuation, which involves as many as 55 vehicles, including trucks, minivans and cars, that are being used to transport the people to safe areas, Poly said.
Authorities have increased the number of evacuation centers from five to over 20 and turned school buildings, offices and sport stadiums into temporary shelters. "We prepare these shelters for more evacuees. Tomorrow... more people (are) coming to shelters," he said.
Poly cited a shortage of supplies such as medicine, blankets and tents. "Please help us with such things," he added.
Mount Lokon, which is 1,750 meters high, is one of Indonesia's 129 active volcanoes. Its last major eruption in 1991 killed one Swiss hiker and displaced thousands of people.