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Jakarta Post

Hundreds flee as Sinabung erupts again

  • Apriadi Gunawan

    The Jakarta Post

Karo, North Sumatra   /   Thu, April 30, 2015   /  06:48 am

Mt. Sinabung erupted again on Tuesday night, forcing hundreds of residents to flee from Gurukinayan subdistrict, Payung district, Karo regency, North Sumatra, and damaging 14 homes, including four Karo customary houses.

The Indonesian Volunteers Community (MRI) said that no fatalities had been reported from the houses that were ignited from the pyroclastic flows, but revealed that of the houses damanged, four were traditional Karo houses.

'€œWe checked the area this morning and there were no fatalities,'€ MRI chairman Susanto Ginting told The Jakarta Post in Kabanjahe on Wednesday.

Ginting said that volunteers had begun to enter Gurukinayan subdistrict around midnight, after the pyroclastic flow stopped, to help extinguish the fires and prevent them from spreading to other villages.

The team of volunteers, he added, worked for over three hours to extinguish the fires.

Susanto expressed concern that the Karo regency administration had been slow to act when the volcano erupted. No regency official, he claimed, had been seen in situ during Tuesday'€™s eruption.

'€œThey were all too fearful to go into the area,'€ said Susanto, a resident of Gurukinayan.

Susanto also said that a total of 812 families had been evacuated from Gurukinayan and were currently sheltering in makeshift shelters at a junction on Jl. Kabanjahe '€“ Kutabuluh.

The head of Karo Regency Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Subur Tambun, confirmed that a number of houses in Gurukinayan had been razed by fire following the eruption of Mt. Sinabung on Tuesday evening.

Subur said that since his agency had not yet dared to enter the affected area, he could not confirm the number of houses lost to fire.

'€œAreas hit by pyroclastic flows are categorized as a red zone. No one is allowed to enter,'€ Subur claimed.

Subur went on that the administration had provided money for affected families to rent houses.

Separately, the head of the Mount Sinabung Observation Post, Armen Putra, said that following the eruption on Tuesday evening, the volcano had remained calm.

'€œThere were still eruptions, but of a low intensity and categorized as normal,'€ said Armen, adding that the alert status of Mt. Sinabung was Siaga, the second-highest of the four statuses '€” normal, caution, alert, and danger.

On Tuesday, according to Armen, Sinabung was recorded to have erupted six times from 5:02 p.m. to 6:03 p.m.

Armen said the pyroclastic flow from the volcano had flowed southward, toward Gurukinayan, Berastepu, Sibintun and Gamber subdistricts. All the subdistricts were empty, as the people living there had been warned to leave.

Armen called on people to remain cautious and not to enter the hazard zones because the potential for further eruptions remained high.

Since an eruption in September 2013, Mt. Sinabung has never entirely stopped erupting. Thousands of residents moved away at that time, only last month returning home after the volcano showed decreased activities. The eruptions have killed at least 17 people and destroyed thousands of houses and hectares of farmland.

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