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Residents fear for safety as Mount Ruang volcano erupts

Jakarta Post - May 4, 2024

Tagulandang, North Sulawesi (Agencies) – Antelmus Paulus, 67, is in despair after the eruption on Tuesday of Ruang volcano rendered his home on Tagulandang island uninhabitable and prompted authorities to evacuate more than 12,000 people.

Antelmus' zinc-roofed house, about 7 kms (4.35 miles) from the 725-metre (2378.61 ft) high volcano, was heavily damaged by the ejected material.

"There were rocks that were spewed (from the volcano), it lasted at least three hours," he told Reuters on Thursday while awaiting evacuation. "I have no place to live now."

The Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) has also warned of a potential tsunami triggered by volcanic material collapsing into the ocean.

Another island resident, Sulce Ansar, said Tuesday's eruption was "worse" than the series of eruptions last month that forced hundreds to evacuate.

"I remember seeing the fiery red clouds (of) lava (spewing) into the air, along with gravels, volcanic ash raining down the island. I had to run very far that night," she said.

Video shared by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) showed lightning flashing above Ruang's crater when it erupted on Tuesday.

Reuters witnessed collapsing roofs on most houses on Tagulandang island, with roads and building debris blanketed in a thick layer of volcanic ash.

Sulce and Antelmus are awaiting evacuation to Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province in the north-central region of the sprawling Indonesian archipelago.

BNPB said that, as of Thursday afternoon, 3,364 people had been evacuated from Tagulandang island, with more than 5,000 inhabitants remaining.

BNPB head Suharyanto expects the remaining residents to be evacuated within the next three days.

A state of emergency, effective until May 14, has been declared by local government to facilitate aid access though authorities said the airport at Manado will remain closed until Friday.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) shared a map on Wednesday morning that showed volcanic ash had reached as far as eastern Malaysia on Borneo island, which the country shares with Indonesia and Brunei.

The spread of volcanic ash forced seven airports to close, the biggest in provincial capital Manado and the city of Gorontalo, according to a notice from state-run air traffic control provider AirNav Indonesia.

Julius Ramopolii, head of Mount Ruang monitoring post, said the volcano was still billowing ash and smoke above the crater on Wednesday morning.

"The volcano is visibly seen, the plume of smoke is visible, grey and thick, and reached 500-700 metres (2,300 feet) above the crater," he said in a statement.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/indonesia/2024/05/03/residents-fear-for-safety-as-mount-ruang-volcano-erupts.htm