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Villagers evacuate after Indonesia volcano eruption

Authorities reported Mount Marapi first erupted at 6:21 am local time (1121 GMT), sending thick volcanic ash
This aerial picture taken on Jan. 12 shows the Mount Marapi volcano as it emits volcanic ash during an eruption as seen from Tanah Datar, in West Sumatra.

This aerial picture taken on Jan. 12 shows the Mount Marapi volcano as it emits volcanic ash during an eruption as seen from Tanah Datar, in West Sumatra. (Photo: AFP)

Published: January 15, 2024 04:53 AM GMT
Updated: January 15, 2024 05:04 AM GMT

Mount Marapi on the Indonesian island of Sumatra erupted again on Sunday morning, spewing volcanic ash that blanketed nearby villages and prompted more than 150 people to evacuate.

Authorities reported the volcano first erupted at 6:21 am local time (1121 GMT), sending thick volcanic ash 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above the crater and toward the southwest area of the peak.

"People who live near the valley or riverbanks below Marapi's peak should be warned of the threat of the lava that can occur in the rainy season," the country's volcanology agency said in a statement.

Authorities last week raised the status of Mount Marapi to the second highest alert level following increasing volcanic activity.

With the new alert level, a 4.5-kilometre (2.8-mile) radius from the crater must be vacated.

A total of 158 villagers have evacuated to their relatives' houses since Friday, but they were allowed to return home and check their livestock during the day, local official Bambang Warsito told AFP.

"As recommended by the volcanology agency, within the 4.5 kilometers of the exclusion zone, these villagers should not stay at home at night, we have also prepared shelters if needed," he said.

The local government also prepared health posts and distributed free face masks to help avoid respiratory infections due to the volcanic ash.

Marapi erupted in December, spewing an ash tower 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) -- taller than the volcano itself -- into the sky.

Several of the 75 people who were hiking the volcano were rescued alive, but 23 people died in the eruption and another died weeks later in a hospital.

Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.

Marapi is the most active volcano in Sumatra and one of nearly 130 active volcanoes in the Indonesian archipelago.

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