Jakarta (dpa) – A volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra
erupted Sunday for the first time in 400 years, shooting black smoke
and ash up to 1,500 metres into the air and prompting the evacuation
of thousands of residents.
Mount Sinabung in the Karo district of North Sumatra province
thundered to life shortly after midnight, shooting lava and other
volcanic materials from its crater.
Indonesia’s state-run Directorate of Vulcanology upgraded the
volcano’s danger status to the highest level minutes before the
eruption of the 2,451-metre peak, located about 1,300 kilometres
north-west of Jakarta.
Using trucks, ambulances and buses, local authorities evacuated
thousands of residents living in nearby hamlets immediately after the
eruption, the state-run Antara news agency reported.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Local media quoted residents as saying lava was visible from
several kilometres away, including in Berastagi, a tourist area in
The Directorate of Vulcanology said Sinabung’s eruption was the
first recorded since 1600.
“Previously, there was no significant activity at the Mount
Sinabung volcano, so the monitoring did not take priority since the
1600s,” Surono, the head of the directorate, was quoted as saying by
Surono, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said a
team of experts were deployed to keep a close eye on Sinabung’s
Besides ordering the evacuations, experts also warned residents to
wear face masks to avoid health problems from the volcano’s ash and
told people living along rivers to be alert to the possibility of
Indonesia has the highest density of volcanoes in the world with
about 500 in the “Belt of Fire” in the 5,000-kilometre-long
archipelago nation. Nearly 130 are active and 65 are listed as