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A volcano on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra erupted more than 50 times on Saturday, sending clouds of gas up to 13,000 feet in the air and a river of lava five kilometers from the source. A five kilometer evacuation area had already been established around Mount Sinabung since it rumbled into action in September last year, displacing 20,331 people to date.

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Remarkably, no casualties were reported as a result of Mount Sinabung’s most recent eruptions in spite of reports of a panicked evacuation. The Guardian described the scene: “Men with ash-covered faces streamed down the scorched slopes on motorcycles, followed by truckloads of women and children, many crying. Officials shouted instructions on megaphones as stones and debris rained from the sky.”

As lava spewed five kilometers down the volcano’s southeastern slope, authorities have extended the “danger area” from five kilometers to seven kilometers (3-4 miles). Many of the 20,000 residents displaced from nearby villages are living in temporary shelters in the area, where they will remain as authorities have raised alerts to the highest levels since last November. A disaster relief effort is underway to help residents in the villages of Jewara and Pintu—seven kilometers from the volcano’s crater—whose homes and farms have been caked with thick ash.

The 8,530-foot Mount Sinabung is one of around 130 active volcanoes that sit on tectonic fault lines known as the “ring of fire.” The volcano had been dormant for 400 years until it unexpectedly erupted in 2010, claiming two lives.

Via Physorg, The Guardian