More than 18,000 people have been evacuated from several affected villages to towns outside a 3.5-mile “danger zone”, following the eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra.
The government has distributed 7,000 masks to refugees and set up public kitchens so people can cook food, said Priyadi Kardono, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago, is on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
Government volcanologist Surono said Mount Sinabung last erupted in 1600, so observers do not know the volcano’s eruption pattern and are monitoring it closely for more activity.
Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono said that many residents in four affected villages at the foot of the volcano had fled immediately after the eruption.
“Many had left their homes even before they were evacuated. They said the volcano was spewing thick black smoke, small stones and sulphur. They were so scared they decided to leave their homes and go to the city,” Mr Kardono said, adding that a rescue team had been sent to survey the area.
“The area is blanketed with thick smoke and there’s a strong smell of sulphur,” he added – Telegraph