Volcano erupts in Indonesia after 400 years, thousands evacuated

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

North Sumatra.

   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

lava-induced floods.

   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