Indonesia raises alert after Mount Semeru volcano erupts

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CNN

Indonesia raised its warning to the highest level on Sunday after Mount Semeru, a volcano in its East Java province, erupted, prompting evacuations of nearby residents.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the plume from the volcano reached 15 kilometers (roughly 50,000 feet) into the air.

The agency said in a statement Sunday it is monitoring for the possibility of a tsunami, but that no significant tide level changes had been observed at observation points in Japan and overseas.

Indonesia’s disaster management agency (BNPB) advised people not to carry out activities within a 5-kilometer (roughly 3 mile) radius from the top of Mount Semeru and said nearly 100 residents have evacuated.

There have been no reports of injuries or deaths so far.

Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, PVMBG, said in a statement the alert level of volcanic activity had been raised to the highest Level IV from Level III.

Mount Semeru, which lies around 500 miles (800 kilometers) southeast of the capital Jakarta, began erupting at 2:46 am local time Sunday (2:46pmET Saturday), according to BNPB. Videos shared by BNPB showed nearby villages blanketed in grey ash.

The evacuation of people, which includes children and seniors, living near the volcano in East Java province is underway with 93 residents so far evacuated to shelters, Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, BNPB said in a statement seen by Reuters news agency.

With the raised alert level, authorities warned residents not to conduct any activities within 8 km (5 miles) of Semeru’s eruption centre, adding hot ash clouds had reached as far as 11.8 miles (19 km) from the center of the eruption.

PVMBG chief Hendra Gunawan said the agency saw the potential for a bigger supply of magma this year compared to previous eruptions in 2021 and 2020.

“Therefore Semeru’s hot clouds could reach further (this year) and at that distance there are many residences,” he said.

Java is the largest population center in Indonesia’s massive island archipelago and home to the capital city of Jakarta. Standing at more than 12,000 feet high, Mount Semeru is the tallest mountain on Java.

The eruption on the eastern part of Java follows a series of earthquakes on the west of the island, including one last month that killed more than 300 people.

The deadly late-November quake that hit West Java’s Cianjur was a shallow temblor of 5.6 magnitude. A much deeper quake on Saturday in Gurat of 6.1 magnitude sent people running from buildings but did not cause major damage.