MOUNT SINABUNG’S recent surge in activity, which has threatened the homes and livelihoods of thousands in the Tanah Karo district of North Sumatra, continued with three eruptions last week following a record eruption that sent plumes of ash and smoke 10,000 meters into the air.
“The potential for more eruptions is still high,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. “With lava spewing in the past four days, these eruptions will be more dangerous.”
Some 6,211 people have fled to 16 refugee centers, Sutopo said. According to data from the Tanah Karo Agriculture Office, up to 25,739 hectares of farmland has been damaged; chili farmers alone could lose Rp 21 billion ($1.82 million), while tomato farmers stood to lose up to Rp 18 billion this harvest.
The 10,000-meter eruption at 9:56 p.m. on Tuesday was the largest ever recorded for the volcano.
“There were up to 500 meters of hot clouds and the eruption lasted for 8.5 minutes,” Sutopo said. “There were rumbling noises that were heard up to Berastagi and Kabanjahe.”
Wednesday’s eruptions, which occurred between 2:40 a.m. and 6:19 a.m., spewed smoke and ash up to 2,500 meters into the air, according to the BNPB.
The eruption, Sutopo said, was similar to those of Mount Merapi. The agency has not been able to observe Mount Sinabung over time to chart its characteristics since it was dormant from 1600 to 2010.
The Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation has kept the threat level at three – the second highest level – for the area within three kilometers of the crater. Villagers from Mardinding, Gurukinayan, Sukameriah, Berastepu, Gamber, Bekerah, Simacem, Sibintun and Lau Kawar have been asked to evacuate, and some villagers from Temberun, Kotatonggal, Sigarang Garang, Sukanalu and Kutatengah have also fled because of ash.
No casualties have been reported. – The Jakarta Globe