Tuesday, November 5, 2013


   Jakarta, Nov 5, 2013 (Antara) - Since September, volcanic activity at Mount Sinabung, which is located in Tanah Karo, North Sumatra, has been intermittent, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.
       In early September when Mount Sinabung erupted several times, some 15,000 people were evacuated, but by the end of the month they were allowed to return home when the volcano had calmed down.
       And now, in early November 2013, more than 1,680 people living in villages within a three kilometer radius of the volcano's crater, have to again be evacuated to safer places.

         The residents were displaced and took refuge following Mount Sinabung¿s eruption on Sunday (November 3), Asren Nasution, the head of the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) of North Sumatra, said.
         Nasution added that the refugees were from Mardinding Village, with 891 refugees, and Suka Meriah Village, Tanah Karo District, where 402 were evacuated.
         The displaced villagers are now taking refuge in a local Batak Karo Protestant Church and the Payung Masjid mosque located not far from the two villages. The evacuation process is still ongoing in Bekerah, Mimacem and Sukameriah villages.
         Mount Sinabung's status has been increased to alert, the third level, following the Sunday eruption at 01:26 am local time.  The volcano spewed ash reaching a height of 7,000 meters, which travelled in a westerly direction, according to officials.
         "The Head of Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center in the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has increased Mount Sinabung's status from vigilant at the second level to alert, which is the third level," said Head of the Information, Data and Public Relations Department of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a press release received in Jakarta on Sunday (Nov 3). The heightened status was announced on October 29, 2013.
          Sutopo urged people who live near the volcano to avoid activity within a radius of three kilometers of the crater.
         "We suggested that people who live in several villages that include Sikameriah, Bekerah, Simacem and Nardinding, and those within three a kilometer radius or who are located near the crater, flee to safer places," he said earlier.
          To help strengthen the team monitoring Mount Sinabung, the Bandung-Based Vulcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) sent 11 more officers to Tanah Karo.
        "Eleven officers and experts of the volcano monitoring task force have been dispatched to strengthen the emergency monitoring of Mount Sinabung," Head of PVMBG Hendrasto said in Bandung, West Java, on November 5.
           The volcanic dust and other material erupting from Sinabung are old and from the surface, as nothing from deep within the volcano has been found, Hendrasto explained.
         He did, however, confirm that a new crack in the volcano has been discovered. "There is a new crack on one of the slopes, not far from the crater," he added.  He urged local residents to remain alert and stay away from the volcano.
    On October 24, 2013, Mount Sinabung also erupted, sending volcanic ash as high as 3,000 meters.  Areas in the east, south and southeast of the volcano were then blanketed by volcanic ash.
        The last eruption of Mount Sinabung was in August 2010, after it was believed inactive for about 400 years.
        The 2010 eruption affected some domestic flights and forced the evacuation of more than 18,000 people who lived in villages located within a six kilometers (3.7 miles) radius.
        Also, thousands of face masks were handed out to protect the public from the ash and smoke that permeated the atmosphere.
        According to Wikipedia, Mount Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano of andesite and dacite located on the Karo plateau of Karo District, 25 miles from Lake Toba supervolcano.
        Many old lava flows are on its flanks and the last known eruption, prior to recent times, occurred in the year 1600. Cracks where steam, gas, and lava are emitted were last observed at the summit in 1912, but no other documented events had taken place until an eruption in the early hours of August 29, 2010.
         The volcano had been assigned as a category "B" volcano in Indonesia, since it was inactive for more than 400 years, while volcanoes in category "A" must be monitored frequently.
         Indonesia has the world's largest number of historically active volcanoes, with at least 76 having erupted.  
   The country also contains some of the world's most famous volcanoes, such as Krakatau (Krakatoa), Tambora, and Merapi.  
    In 1883 the eruption of Mount Krakatau, located off Java's coast, triggered a tsunami that claimed more than 36,000 lives.    
   On Java Island alone, 120 million people live in the shadow of more than 30 volcanoes.

(T.F001/A/BESSR/A/A. Abdussalam) 05
-11-2013 19:38:58

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