Indonesia’s Sinabung Volcano erupts 77 times in 24 hours

January 6, 2014 – INDONESIA – A volcano on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island erupted at least 77 times over the weekend, sending clouds of potentially deadly superheated gas barreling down the mountain and forcing the evacuation of more villages in the highly populated area. Mount Sinabung has displaced nearly 20,000 people from their homes since sporadic eruptions began in September. Experts have placed it under the highest alert status among the 127 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is home to more active volcanoes than any other country and has some of the world’s most lethal volcanic activity. More people were evacuated Friday from villages in the path of hot clouds of ash and gases that on Saturday blew more than five kilometers (three miles) down the mountainside, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the national disaster-mitigation agency. ount Sinabung spews lava as seen from the village of Suka Ndebi in Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, on Sunday. That was the farthest such clouds,—also called pyroclastic flows,—had traveled to date. Experts say the flows, which move at high speeds and scorch everything in their path, are among the most dangerous volcanic events. When another of Indonesia’s volcanoes, Mount Merapi, erupted in 2010, almost 2,000 kilometers to the southeast on the archipelago country’s main island of Java—dozens of people were killed by superheated gases that tore into their villages far below the summit. The disaster agency said Sunday that Sinabung had erupted 77 times in the previous 24 hours, sending fine particles of ash up to 4,000 meters into the air. That marks a major increase in the frequency of eruptions, although the maximum height of the plumes has fallen to roughly half the peak level last week. Winds have been pushing the ash to the east and southeast, away from Indonesia’s third-largest city, Medan, home to more than two million people.
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