Mount Semeru: warning after volcanic eruption in Indonesia


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

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

The agency said in a statement Sunday that it is monitoring the possibility of a tsunami, but no significant changes in tidal levels have been observed at observation points in Japan and beyond.

Indonesia’s Disaster Relief Agency (BNPB) advised people not to carry out any activities within 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) of the top of Mount Semeru and said nearly 100 residents have been evacuated.

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

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

Mount Semeru, which is about 500 miles (800 kilometers) southeast of the capital Jakarta, began erupting at 2:46 a.m. local time Sunday (2:46 p.m. ET Saturday), according to BNPB. Videos shared by BNPB showed nearby villages covered in gray ash.

The evacuation of people, including children and seniors, living near the volcano in East Java province is underway. 93 residents have so far been evacuated to shelters, Indonesia’s disaster relief agency, BNPB said in a statement from Reuters news agency.

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

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

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

Mount Semeru spews smoke and ash in Lumajang on December 4, 2022.

Java is the largest population center of Indonesia’s vast archipelago of islands and home to the capital, Jakarta. With an elevation of over 12,000 feet, Mount Semeru is the highest mountain in Java.

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

The deadly quake that hit Cianjur in West Java in late November was a shallow quake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale. A much deeper 6.1 magnitude earthquake in Gurat on Saturday sent people running from buildings but caused no major damage.

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