Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mount Gamkonora Eruption: Hundreds briefly evacuate as volcano erupts in northeast Indonesia

TERNATE, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Hundreds of residents in northeastern Indonesia fled their homes on Wednesday after a brief eruption at Mount Gamkonora, spewing towering columns of ash and smoke and prompting officials to raise the volcano’s alert level to the second-highest state.

The 1,635-meter (5,364 feet) tall volcano, which is located on the west coast of Halmahera island in the Maluku Islands and is part of North Maluku province, began to erupt on Wednesday afternoon and sent thick ash clouds up to 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) high, although no lava flows were seen.

The Antara news agency reported that hundreds of residents living on the volcano’s slope evacuated the area following the eruption, but they returned hours later after officials determined their communities are not currently at risk. New evacuations could be ordered if activity at the volcano continues to increase.

Following Wednesday’s eruption, the country’s Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) decided to raise the volcano’s alert status to Siaga (level 3), the second-highest level. The agency uses a warning system with four levels of alert, with level 1 being the lowest and level 4 being the highest.

PVMBG said activity at Mount Gamkonora has been increasing for months, with more frequent volcanic earthquakes and an increase of magma activity near the surface. Authorities are still uncertain whether the current eruption will lead to a major event, but past eruptions at the volcano have nearly all been explosive. Read More