Fri, July 15, 2011
World > Asia-Pacific

Central Indonesian volcano erupts

2011-07-15 05:48:52 GMT2011-07-15 13:48:52(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

The glow of lava from Mount Lokon's eruption is seen against the night sky as seen from Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, early Friday, July 15, 2011. The volcano spit lava and smoke thousands of feet into the air early Friday, sending panicked residents fleeing down its slopes. There were no immediate reports of casualties. (AP Photo)

Mount Lokon spews hot lava and volcanic ash during an eruption in Tomohon in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province July 14, 2011. Indonesia's Mount Lokon erupted to spew hot lava and volcanic ash as high as 1,500 metres (5,000 feet) in the north of Sulawesi island, prompting panicked residents to flee the agricultural area, a government official said on Friday. Picture taken July 14, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

Mount Lokon spews hot lava and volcanic ash during an eruption in Tomohon in Indonesia's North Sulawesi province July 14, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]

TOMOHON, Indonesia — A volcano in central Indonesia spit lava and smoke high into the air early Friday, sending thousands of panicked residents racing down its fiery slopes. One woman died of a heart attack as she fled, but no other casualties were reported.

Mount Lokon, located in northern Sulawesi province, unleashed its first powerful eruption at 10:46 p.m. Thursday, said Brian Rulrone, a disaster management agency official. That blast was followed by a second just after midnight and a third at 1:10 a.m. Friday.

Glowing lava cascaded from the mouth of the crater, triggering forest fires along its western slope, said Ferry Rusmawan, an official at the nearest monitoring post, adding that activity remained high and another eruption appeared imminent.

The 5,741-foot (1,750-meter) mountain continued to rumble late Friday morning.

Soldiers and police helped rescuers evacuate residents living along the mountain's fertile slopes, said Jimmy Eman, the acting mayor in the nearby town of Tomohon, adding that the only victim so far was the 56-year-old woman who died of a heart attack.

More than 6,000 people were crammed into schools, churches and other temporary shelters and authorities said 27,000 others living within 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) of the crater also would be moved.

"This is the largest eruption I've ever experienced," said Nelson Uada, who was among those evacuated overnight. "It was very scary. Glowing lava flowed like flames in the darkness and it sounded like we were in a war."

Flights to the nearest international airport in Manado, the provincial capital, were not disrupted, said Lucky Podaag, an airport spokesman.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 240 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanoes because it sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the Pacific Ocean.

Mount Lokon, which has been on high alert for nearly a week, is one of the country's 129 active volcanos. Its last major eruption in 1991 killed a Swiss hiker and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

(Agencies)

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