Sinabung volcano in Sumatra and Java's Merapi erupt, hitting flights

Sumatra's restless Sinabung erupts, sending villagers into retreat; Java's Merapi goes off too

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 12:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 November, 2013, 1:20am


Two volcanoes erupted in Indonesia yesterday, one forcing flights to be rerouted and delaying the return home of thousands of people who had previously been evacuated.

Mount Sinabung on western Sumatra island, which has been erupting on and off since mid-September, shot volcanic ash 8,000 metres into the air, the Geological Disaster Mitigation and Volcanology Centre said.

"The transport ministry is redirecting flights away from a certain path because of Mount Sinabung's latest eruption," ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said.

He said the affected routes were commonly used by international flights to and from Australia, as well as domestic flights.

The eruption also meant about 5,000 people who had recently been evacuated from the area around Sinabung due to its eruptions could not return home.

"This is the biggest eruption in vertical terms since September," vulcanologist Agus Budianto said.

On the main island of Java, Indonesia's most active volcano, Mount Merapi, spewed a column of ash and smoke 2,000 metres into the air in the morning.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said the eruption, triggered by small earthquakes, prompted 600 families to rush to evacuation posts but they were returning home as there was no imminent threat.

Tourists and travellers were banned from entering the area.

This is the biggest eruption in vertical terms since September

The 2,911-metre high Mount Merapi's most violent eruption occurred in 2010, when it killed about 350 people and displaced thousands others. It also destroyed entire villages.

Indonesia has 129 active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the "Ring of Fire" between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

In August, five people were killed and hundreds evacuated when a volcano on a tiny island in East Nusa Tenggara erupted.

Two volcanoes erupt in Indonesia forcing evacuations

Additional reporting by Xinhua