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Indonesian volcano erupts, highest alert raised

JAKARTA, January 11 ------ Indonesia's Mount Lewotobi Laki-Laki erupted again, spewing ash clouds 2 kilometers (6,561 feet) above its peak as authorities raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level.


The eruption follows weeks of heightened volcanic activity on the mountain, located on eastern Indonesia's Flores Island, and prompted the local government to issue an evacuation order for nearby residents. "The communities are urged to immediately evacuate to safe points to avoid hot ash (from the volcano)," local official Benediktus Bolibapa Herin told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday. Local authorities have established two temporary shelters, which are currently accommodating about 5,000 people, he said.


The Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center, or PVMBG, raised on Tuesday night Lewotobi Laki-Laki's alert level to 4 after it was raised to the second-highest level last week and imposed an exclusion zone of 4 to 5 km around the crater. Locals are advised to be on alert for potential flooding as volcanic mudflows pour into rivers, PVMBG head Hendra Gunawan said in a statement. He added that people should wear masks "to prevent the dangers of volcanic ash to the respiratory system." The Southeast Asian archipelagic nation sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of intense volcanic and seismic activity, and has nearly 130 volcanoes. Indonesian authorities on Tuesday increased the alert status of Mount Marapi, located on the country's western Sumatra island, to the second-highest level and imposed a 4.5-km exclusion zone from its crater. A December eruption of Marapi, which means "mountain of fire," killed 23 people.



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