Indonesia: Mount Sinabung Records Biggest Ever Volcanic Eruption

Mount Sinabung spews volcanic smoke, seen from Karo, North Sumatra on Nov. 10, 2013. According to the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), about 1,681 villagers living at the foot of the volcano have been evacuated, including four villages situated within three-kilometers of the crater. (EPA Photo/Dedi Sahputra)

Mount Sinabung spews volcanic smoke, seen from Karo, North Sumatra on Nov. 10, 2013. According to the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), about 1,681 villagers living at the foot of the volcano have been evacuated, including four villages situated within three-kilometers of the crater. (EPA Photo/Dedi Sahputra)

Mount Sinabung’s recent surge in activity, which has threatened the homes and livelihoods of thousands in the Tanah Karo district of North Sumatra, continued with three eruptions on Wednesday following a record eruption Tuesday night that sent plumes of ash and smoke 10,000 meters into the air.

“The potential for more eruptions is still high,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told the Jakarta Globe. “With lava spewing in the past four days, these eruptions will be more dangerous.”

Some 6,211 people have fled to 16 refugee centers, Sutopo said. According to data from the Tanah Karo Agriculture Office, up to 25,739 hectares of farmland has been damaged, and Makmur Sanjaya Sembiring, a farmer from Naman Teran subdistrict in Tanah Karo, said chili farmers alone could lose Rp 21 billion ($1.82 million), while tomato farmers stood to lose up to Rp 18 billion this harvest.

The 10,000 meter eruption at 9:56 p.m. on Tuesday was the largest ever recorded for the volcano.

“There were up to 500 meters of hot clouds and the eruption lasted for 8.5 minutes,” Sutopo said. “There were rumbling noises that were heard up to Berastagi and Kabanjahe.”

Mount Sinabung records biggest eruption (Reuters)

Mount Sinabung records biggest eruption (Reuters)

Wednesday’s eruptions, which occurred between 2:40 a.m. and 6:19 a.m., spewed smoke and ash up to 2,500 meters into the air, according to the BNPB.

The eruption, Sutopo said, was similar to those of Mount Merapi. The agency has has not been able to observe Mount Sinabung over time to chart its characteristics since it was dormant from 1600 to 2010.

Mount Sinabung records biggest eruption (Reuters)

Mount Sinabung records biggest eruption (Reuters)

The Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) has kept the threat level at three — the second highest level — for the area within three kilometers of the crater. Villagers from Mardinding, Gurukinayan, Sukameriah, Berastepu, Gamber, Bekerah, Simacem, Sibintun and Lau Kawar have been asked to evacuate, and some villagers from Temberun, Kotatonggal, Sigarang Garang, Sukanalu and Kutatengah have also fled because of ash.

No casualties have been reported.

Sinabung has been spewing lava for three days (Reuters)

Sinabung has been spewing lava for three days (Reuters)

“We urge everyone to keep alert,” Sutopo said. “There are two threats, which are eruptions and cold lava. Please don’t get provoked with false rumors related to Mount Sinabung. BNPB, PVMBG and other officials will always give information to the public.” thejakartaglobe

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