Indonesian volcano erupts forcing thousands to flee as ash and smoke spew four kilometres into sky

Tom Batchelor
·2 min read
<p>An eruption of Mount Ile Lewotolok is seen in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara province</p> (Via Reuters)

An eruption of Mount Ile Lewotolok is seen in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara province

(Via Reuters)

Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes in Indonesia after an erupting volcano sent ash and smoke four kilometres into the sky.

Officals said activity from Mount Ile Lewotolok volcano had left 2,780 people from 26 villages seeking refuge.

The volcano is situated in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province, about 1,600 miles east of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.

Authorities said no casualties or damage had so far been reported.

The country’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre said on its website that the area near the volcano is likely to be inundated with “hot clouds, lava stream, lava avalanche, and poisonous gas”.

<p>Mount Ile Lewotolok’s ash cloud extends miles into the sky</p>Muhammad Ilham via Reuters

Mount Ile Lewotolok’s ash cloud extends miles into the sky

Muhammad Ilham via Reuters

The agency said the eruption and ash emission was “still ongoing” on Sunday afternoon, with the ash cloud moving in two directions: the lower level plume is moving towards the west and the upper level plume is moving east in the direction of the north coast of Australia.

Information provided to aircrews said volcanic ash was discernible on satellite images of the area as high as 50,000 feet in the higher plume and 18,000 feet in the lower level plume. Aircraft were advised to avoid the area.

Ash was said to have rained down on nearby Wunopitu airport, which temporarily closed.

<p>The volcano sits about 1,600 miles east of Indonesian capital Jakarta</p>Via Reuters

The volcano sits about 1,600 miles east of Indonesian capital Jakarta

Via Reuters

Reuters reported that the status of the volcano had been raised to the second-highest level on Indonesia's four-tier alert system.

There are only three other volcanoes with this level. These include the Merapi volcano on the island of Java, and Sinabung on Sumatra, which erupted this month.

Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country, and while many show high levels of activity it can be weeks or even months before an eruption.

In August, Mount Sinabung volcano in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province shot a vast plume of ash and dust over 3 miles into the sky and plunged local villages into darkness.

Thick layers of ash covered areas up to 12 miles from the crater.

The volcano had been dormant for over 400 years until an eruption in 2010 in which two people were killed. Since then several eruptions have occurred.

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