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Massive Eruption Of Ruang Volcano In Indonesia Triggers Evacuations

Raises fears of 1871 like tsunami which killed 400 people

A dramatic eruption on Wednesday, after two previous main explosive events in the Ruang volcano on Ruang island, in the North Sulawesti province of Indonesia, on Wednesday, which spewed a fiery-red column of lava, incandescent rock, and ash as much as three kms into the sky, has lead to large scale evacuations, temporary closure of a provisional airport and raised fears of a 1871 like tsunami that killed 400 people.

According to the National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure, named BNPB, the country’s Multiplatform Application for Geohazard Mitigation and Assessment (MAGMA) has raised the alert level for the volcano, which has a peak of 725 metres above the sea level, to IV, the highest in the four-tiered system.

Officials worry that part of the volcano could collapse into the sea and cause a tsunami, as happened in 1871.

BNPD informed in a statement that people living in Tagulandang Island area, located a km north-east of Ruang Island, and others that are within a radius of six km, especially those living close to the coast, have been ordered to be immediately evacuated to a safe place.

Massive Eruption Of Ruang Volcano In Indonesia Triggers Evacuations, Lifeinchd
A TV grab of the Ruang volcano eruption

The volcano was still billowing a column of smoke on Thursday morning, prompting authorities to shut the nearest international airport in Manado city on Sulawesi island for 24 hours.

Runways were shut “due to the spread of volcanic ash which could endanger flight safety”, Ambar Suryoko, head of the Manado region airport authority office, has been reported as saying.

The airport hosts airlines that fly to Singapore and cities in South Korea and China.

Indonesia sits along the “Ring of Fire”, the most active zone in the world for seismic activity.

In December 2023, more than 20 people died in Indonesia after a surprise volcanic eruption at Mount Marapi on the island of Sumatra.

According to a study, among the 17,504 islands in Indonesia, there are 22 volcanic islands with records of volcanic eruptions from pre-historic times. As much as 75% of these are classified as active and have a high potential to endanger the surrounding population which generally lives on small islands.

More than 150,000 people have been evacuated in 25 volcanic unrests on nine volcanic islands during 1966 to 2017.

The largest fatalities from eruptions on volcanic islands have been caused by volcanic tsunamis. Between 416 and 2018, there were 19 volcanic tsunami events on Indonesia’s volcanic islands, resulting in 41,328 deaths, the study added

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