At least 16 dead as volcano eruption intensifies in Indonesia

2014-01-15 10:16:31 GMT2014-01-15 18:16:31(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

JAKARTA, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- At least 16 evacuees have died in shelters and hospitals as Mount Sinabung in Karo district of North Sumatra keeps erupting intensively, officials said here on Wednesday.

"Data shows 16 people have been dead," Syamsul Maarif, head of the national disaster management agency, said at the State Palace.

Mount Sinabung's eruption continued on Wednesday, spewing column of ash as high as 7,000 meters into the air, the highest since last September, he said.

Maarif confirmed that lava flood was threatening several villages at downstream of rivers as the lava has flowed into the rivers.

"The threat of cold lava is lingering. In recent days, lava has flowed into the rivers and we are concerned that it bloated the rivers and burst their banks," said Maarif.

The agency so far has allocated 21 billion rupiah (2.1 million U.S. dollars) for emergency relief aid, he said.

So far, the number of evacuees has went up to 26,088, from 25, 516 recorded on Saturday evening.

The 2,457-meter-high Mount Sinabung has been back to life since September last year after remaining quiet for around 400 years. It has erupted intermittently since then, but went into overdrive frequently last November and December.

Mount Sinabung is among the 129 active volcanoes in the archipelago country, which is prone to seismic upheavals as it sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" encircling the Pacific Ocean.

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