July 18, 2011

Strongest Eruptions Yet For Mount Lokon Sunday

A central Indonesian volcano that first started erupting last Thursday shot hot ash and smoke into their air again on Sunday in what the Telegraph considers "it's most powerful eruption yet."

Mount Lokon, which is located on northern Sulawesi island, is a 5,184 foot volcano that until this past week had not erupted since 1991.

Thousands of people were forced to evacuate from a two-mile zone surrounding the volcano, which according to BBC News shot ash, sand, and rocks some 4,800 feet into the air, but no casualties were reported.

On Sunday, those eruptions reach more than 11,000 feet into the air, according to the Telegraph.

"Panicked local villagers rushed back to emergency shelters that they had only just abandoned after a series of eruptions on Thursday and Friday," they added. "There were no immediate reports of casualties."

The eruption came at 10:35am EDT, according to Associated Press (AP) writer Gracey Wakari.

"We're hoping this helped ease pressure building up behind the magma dome and that we'll now start seeing a reduction in activity," government volcanologist Surono told Wakari.

However, he pointed out that it was too early to know that for certain.

"The volcano erupted again this morning, the biggest since late June. It spewed rocks and ash," a second government volcanologist, Kristianto, told AFP on Sunday morning.

"We have informed the airport to be on alert as the ash is quite high this time. But so far, flights are not affected yet and the airport is not closed," he added. "The volcano is still in eruption phase. We can't predict whether the activity will slow down or if there will more eruptions."

Though no new casualties were reported on Sunday, Mount Lokon's overnight eruptions on Thursday and Friday resulted in one fatality--a woman who suffered a heart attack while fleeing, according to Wakari. The AP reporter added that airlines travelling within six miles of the volcano were asked to reroute their flights, though none of them had been cancelled as of Sunday afternoon.

The 1991 eruption of Mount Lokon resulted in the death of a Swiss tourist who was hiking in the vicinity. It is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, the most active of which (Mount Merapi) was responsible for 350 fatalities last year due to a series of fierce eruptions. Mount Lokon also has a "twin" volcano, Mount Empung, that is located less than two miles away.


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