Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Indonesian Island is on alert due to possible volcano eruption

Indonesian scientists stepped up the alert level for a volcano in East Java and told people to stay away from the crater amid fears it is building up to an eruption.

The vulcanology office website says the alert for Mount Kelut has been raised to the third of a four-level warning system.

The alert is based on recordings of increased seismic activity as well as rising temperatures in the crater lake and the shifting chemical composition of the water.

The office advised people to maintain a five-kilometre safety zone around the crater of Mount Kelut and told residents to be prepared to evacuate at the first sign of any eruption.

The alert status had already been raised one step on September 11.

Although its slopes are sparsely inhabited, the peak is a popular domestic tourist destination and is located on a densely-populated plain.

The 1,731-metre volcano last blew in 1990.

It has claimed more than 15,000 lives since 1500, including around 10,000 when it erupted in 1568.

The vulcanology office says that between September 26 and 29, 54 volcanic earthquakes and nine tectonic temblors had been recorded, and signs were that their epicentre was moving closer to the surface.

The office says the lake on top of the volcano has changed from its habitual greenish aspect into milky white, and gas is coming out.

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