Friday, July 15, 2011


      Jakarta, July 15, 2011 (ANTARA) - A major eruption of Mount Lokon in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, on Thursday evening (July 14) has struck local villagers with panic and forced them to leave their houses immediately, causing an almost 100 percent increase in the number of refugees.
        Some 4,446 people were taking refuge on Friday (July 15) following the latest eruption, a significant increase from 2,510 people a day earlier.

        "Many people, especially those living in the red zone, are taking refuge on the roads," Johanes Pangkey, a Tomohon resident, said on Friday.
       The volcano spewed burning lava, sand and ash as far as 1,500 meters from its cauldron. Herdi Togas, a resident of Kinilow, Tomohon, said its burning lava could be seen from Boulevard, Manado, Bumi Beringin and Kairagi, Mapanget sub district.
       "Its eruption can be seen from the Manado Convention Center (MCC), the Boulevard area, Manado. For the first time in my life, I saw lava," Gina Saerang, a student at Sam Ratulangi University, said.
       The major eruption caused forest fires around the volcano, according to Head of the Data and Information Center of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in Jakarta Thursday night that
      The BNPB, Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) and relevant government institutions have handled evacuations of people living in the danger zones. Military personnel and members of the Search and Rescue (SAR) team also helped evacuate people living around 3.5 km from the mountain.

Prior to the Thursday evening eruption, white smoke came out from the mountain`s cauldron rising 100 to 150 meters into the sky. Within few hours Mt Lokon produced 25 deep volcanic tremors and 30 shallow volcanic quakes. The volcanic tremors struck with an amplitude of 0.5 to 4 millimeters.

The Mount Lokon monitoring post reported that there was a critical phase in the evening following 60 in-depth volcanic tremors and 30 shallow volcanic tremors inside the mountain with an amplitude of 0.5-4 mm.

Since the first eruption on July 5, 2011, the force of the volcano`s tremors continued to fluctuate causing 8 millimeter shocks. Last Saturday (July 9), Mount Lokon had erupted three times. On Monday (July 11) morning, it erupted twice.

Following the volcano`s intensified activity, Mt Lokon`s condition has been declared in a watchful status since Sunday (July 10). The government has declared Kinilow Environs I, 2, 3 and 7, as well as Kinilow I Environ V as danger zones.

BNPB has ordered the local people to evacuate to safer places since Monday (July 11) and asked them to keep watch of the flow of lava through a river which ran down from the peak of Mt Lokon.

North Sulawesi Governor Sarundajang has urged people living at the foot of Mount Lokon, Tomohon, not to panic and stay alert towards the volcano`s eruptions.

"Inhabitants are expected to always follow the directives and advice of the regional government concerning the emergency response in the mountain`s eruption," Michael Umbas, a staffer of the North Sulawesi governor, said quoting Sarundajang on Tuesday (July 12).

The current 4,446 refugees comprise 2,154 male and 2,292 female residents, Ariston Tambengi of the Lokon Disaster Mitigation Post Command`s media center, said in Tomohon on Friday. The displaced people are mostly residents of Kinilow I, Kinilow and Kakaskasen I.

"Thousands of refugees are accommodated at six locations, namely at Tomohon Christian High School (SMA), Binsus Tomohon Christian SMA, Christian 2 Tomohon Vocational High School (SMK) 2, Tomohon Junior High School (SMP) 1, city park, and GMIM 7 Tomohon Elementary School (SD)," Tambengi said.

Earlier, 2,510 refugees were accommodated at four locations, but due to the significant increase in the number of refugees, two more refugee camps, namely at city park and SD GMIM 7 Tomohon, were set up.

The transportation ministry has asked all planes passing Manado and its surroundings to be careful following the volcano`s eruption.

"The eruption of Mt Lokon had produced volcanic ash 50,000 feet into the air. All places flying pass the area need to be careful and avoid the area," Head of the Public Communication Center of the Transportation Ministry Bambang S. Ervan said in a press release on Monday (July 11).

Bambang said the request to be careful was contained in a Notam (Notice to Airman) issued by the Notam Office of the Air Transportation directorate general No A0920/11. Notam explains the danger zone of the eruption 10 Nautical Miles, or some 18.52 km from Mt Lokon.

The central government through the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), has sent Rp300 million to the local Regional Disaster Management Office (BPBD) as emergency relief funds.

Head of the North Sulawesi Social Office Recky Tumanduk said local authorities had set up a public kitchen to meet the refugees` need for cooked food.

The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) has distributed around 15,000 masks to local people since Mount Lokon erupted on Saturday (July 9). Around 700 blankets have also been made available.

The masks were distributed to people living around Mount Lokon, Levie Golioth of the Tomohon Red Cross said.

"Volcanic ash that is flying around from Mount Lokon is dangerous for our health, so masks are very important for the people," Den Pinontoan, a Tomohon resident, said on Friday.

However, he considered the existing masks from the authorities and mass organizations are not enough for every resident.

A Minahasa resident, John Pangemanan, also emphasized the importance of distributing more masks to local people, because the ash was dangerous and could affect the lungs and respiratory system.

"Can you imagine Mount Lokon has spewed volcanic ash reaching as far as our location in Tanawangko, Minahasa District," John Pangemanan said.

The PMI has mobilized roughly 150 personnel to help the local people following the increased activities of the volcano.

"A number of doctors have also been made ready to give medical services to the refugees," he said.

Levie, however, complained that lack of fuel such as gasoline and diesel, has hampered the mobility of the PMI personnel.

Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono plans to visit North Sulawesi Province to take a look at the erupting Mount Lokon.

"If conditions worsen, I will visit the region. But right now I am coordination with the National Disaster Management Agency and the local authorities concerning developments in north Sulawesi," Agung Laksono told the press in Jakarta on Wednesday (July 13).

Indonesia has the world`s largest number of historically active volcanoes, and 76 of them have erupted. Its total of 1171 dated eruptions is only narrowly exceeded by Japan`s 1274. ***4***


(T.F001/A/F001/B003) 16-07-2011 00:20:29

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