Indonesia on high alert after Ruang volcano erupts for second time in fortnight

Latest eruption sends tower of ash 5km into sky and forces evacuation of hundreds of people

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 30 April 2024 07:16 BST
Thousands evacuated after volcano erupts in Indonesia

Indonesia’s remote Mount Ruang volcano saw a second eruption in a fortnight on Tuesday, forcing the closure of the international airport and the evacuation of hundreds of people.

The country’s Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation issued a high alert after the volcano in the North Sulawesi Province spewed fiery lava and ashes multiple times into the night sky.

The volcano last erupted 12 days ago, for the first time this year, triggering almost 300 volcanic earthquakes over a period of two weeks and forcing more than 800 residents of a nearby village to flee and seek shelter in churches and community centres.

Authorities had warned that the threat from the eruption was not over.

The latest eruption occurred at around 1.15am local time on Tuesday, sending a tower of ash more than 5km into the sky, the agency said. Shortly after, it erupted twice more.

Authorities have again established a six-km exclusion zone and urged people to stay away from “the potential for ejections of incandescent rocks, hot clouds and tsunamis due to eruption material entering the sea”.

An eruption from Mount Ruang volcano is seen from Tagulandang island in Sitaro, North Sulawesi
An eruption from Mount Ruang volcano is seen from Tagulandang island in Sitaro, North Sulawesi (AFP via Getty)

Some of the villagers fleeing the first eruption who had returned after the emergency response status ended on Monday were asked to leave again. It wasn’t immediately clear how many more people were evacuated on Tuesday.

The country’s aviation authorities closed the Sam Ratulangi international airport in the provincial capital of Manado due to “Ruang volcanic ash”, according to state-run air traffic control provider AirNav Indonesia. The airport is more than 100m away from the volcano.

Indonesia is located on the “Pacific Ring of Fire” and has 142 volcanoes. It has the largest global population, totalling about 8.6 million, living within 10km of a volcano.

The country has seen several volcanic eruptions in the past few years. In December 2023, at least 11 hikers were killed after an eruption on the slopes of Mount Marapi on the island of Sumatra. A year before, Mount Semeru erupted, prompting the evacuation of more than 1,000 people.

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