Friday, April 22, 2005

Mount Soputan worries officials and nearby residents

Mount Soputan in South Minahasa, North Sulawesi, has had two minor eruptions during the past two days and officials are worried about the safety of nearby residents.

The first eruption occurred on Tuesday evening at 5:15 p.m, with the second taking place the following morning at 6:38. Both times the 1,780 meter high volcano spewed hot ash hundreds of meters into the air which blanketed the adjacent Kawangkoan district.
Mt. Soputan was last noticeably active in November last year.

Despite the eruptions, government officials had yet to order residents to evacuate the area, observation post official Yappy Rombot said.

Jemmy Runtuwene, the chief of the volcanology office in Tomohon, South Minahasa, said his department had imposed an alert-watch status on the volcano as its activity increased.
"We have urged local residents to stay away from the volcano," Jemmy said on Wednesday.
He advised residents living on the slopes of the volcano to use masks in order to prevent ash inhalation.

None of the residents on the mountain had left, reports said, but many had complained their gardens or crops had dried or perished because of the ash.

The eruptions took place a week after ominous rumblings from Mt. Talang in West Sumatra and Mt. Tangkuban Perahu and Anak Krakatau in West Java. The recent activity is believed to have been caused by the large earthquakes in Nias and Aceh and 11 volcanoes in the country have now been put on watch status.

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