The Jakarta Post
The Karo regency administration in North Sumatra has declared an emergency response period following the increasing frequency of Mount Sinabung's eruptions in the last few days.
Regency administration spokesperson Jhonson Tarigan said the period was effective from this week for an indefinite period, or until the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) recommended otherwise.
The volcano has been placed on alert status as it is continuously spewing volcanic ash.
The latest eruption took place on Tuesday at around 2:30 p.m. local time when the volcano sent a plume of smoke 3-kilometers into the air, while the spread of ash was around 10 km to the southwest.
Jhonson said the eruption was strong as it lasted around 20 minutes and was heard at tourist resort Berastagi, which is located around 15 km from the volcano and 60 km from Medan.
No casualties were reported in the eruption. Jhonson said at least 1,700 people from four subdistricts of Simacem, Bekerah, Mardinding and Suka Meriah had been evacuated due to the eruptions, as their homes were very close to the volcano's crater.
'Areas within a 3-km radius of Sinabung's crater have to be cleared, that's why people must evacuate,' he said.
The evacuees were placed in three evacuation centers in Payung, Tiga Nderket and Naman Teran districts under the responsibility of the respective district heads.
Romel Karo-Karo, a local community figure, said most of the evacuees were traumatized by the eruptions.
'They are very traumatized, especially when eruptions happen at night when they cannot see the volcano, but can suddenly feel the ash covering their villages,' Romel said as he was evacuating people in Naman Teran on Tuesday.
The two eruptions on Monday night, for example, terrified nearby residents as they also sounded very loud.
'The second eruption at about 9:30 p.m. brought with it searing material,' said Romel, adding that the first eruption on Monday lasted about eight minutes while the second one lasted about five minutes.
PVMBG head Hendrasto said on Tuesday the alert status of Mt. Sinabung was maintained as its eruptions continued.
This, he said, was based on the result of observations made from the Mt. Sinabung observation post in Simpang Empat district from Oct. 29 until Nov. 2.
Apart from that, the eruption tremor amplitude and the duration of the tremors were also increasing from day-to-day, he added.
Previously, thousands of people living on Mt. Sinabung's slopes were evacuated when the volcano, which is 2,460 meters above sea level, erupted in mid September ' the first eruption since August 2010. The 2010 incident, which was the first eruption in almost 410 years, claimed several lives and displaced thousands.
Before the eruption, the volcano was categorized as dormant, or a type B volcano, but was later categorized as dangerous or a type A volcano.
According to the PVMBG, type A volcanoes are those that have erupted at least once since 1600, type B volcanoes have not erupted since 1600 but still show signs of volcanic activity, and type C volcanoes have not erupted at all in recorded history.
Like any other area around other volcanoes, the soil around Mt. Sinabung is very fertile. Such conditions have made Karo famous for its agricultural products, such as potato and oranges, which are marketed to Jakarta and other cities.
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