An official who is monitoring Mount Sinabung in Karo Regency says molten lava flows from its crater have increased following an eruption that occurred over the weekend.
The mountain erupted again on Saturday at 11:05 p.m., discharging hot ash clouds that spread as far as 4 kilometers.
Hot ash clouds affected the residential areas of Suka Meriah, Sukanalu and Sei Bekerah. Fortunately, residents had long before fled the three villages and there were no reports of casualties.
Deri Hidayat, an official from the Mt. Sinabung monitoring post, said the eruption was so strong that volcanic ash had reached Berastagi city, a center of tourism for Karo regency.
“The volcanic ash was carried by wind to the east for 10 kilometers until Berastagi city,” he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
He said activity at Mt. Sinabung was higher than usual after the eruption. Indications of higher activity could be seen in the number of increased tremors in the area.
“The tremors pushed lava to the top [of crater], causing a higher intensity of molten lava,” Deri said, adding that he recorded 17 lava flows from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.
He said he could not predict whether another eruption would occur, but he confirmed Mt. Sinabung was still on high alert.
The mountain last erupted on June 30. These latest eruptions have not affected evacuees in shelters.
However, another eruption in September 2013 killed 14 residents and injured many others.
That eruption, which was supposedly one of Sinabung’s longest, affected over 10,000 evacuees for over 10 months.
The number of evacuees has reached 14,130 people, or 4,392 families.
As many as 10,447 people, or 3,143 families, are housed in 23 evacuation shelters, while the remainder live in rented houses provided by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).
BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said many evacuees were still reluctant to return to their villages because their houses were damaged.
He said the evacuees would be willing to return after they had fixed their roofs.
Sutopo said the government needed at least 230,000 sheets of zinc aluminum to repair the evacuees’ roofs.
“The BNPB has sent 100,000 sheets of zinc aluminum worth Rp 9 billion [US$776,866]. The remaining 130,000 pieces of zinc aluminum [worth Rp 13 billion] will be funded by the Karo regency and North Sumatra city budgets,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said, bylaws on city budgets in both administrations had not yet been deliberated.
Sutopo said BNPB head Syamsul Maarif had ordered both administrations to quickly respond to take care of the needs of the evacuees.
He said that as of May 25, the BNPB had designated the responsibility of handling Sinabung’s evacuees to the provincial and regency administrations.
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