12/02/2020, 18.59
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The Ili Lewotolok and Semeru volcanoes erupt sparking fears

by Mathias Hariyadi

Since Monday, columns of smoke and ash have risen up to three kilometres. For experts, this is an ever-increasing threat. Requests for masks and emergency equipment come from the affected areas. With many villages evacuated, the situation remains precarious.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Two very active Indonesian volcanoes have erupted in the past couple of days, sending columns of ash, smoke and pyroclasts into the air.

The first one to erupt on Monday was Mount Ile Ape Lewotolok, which is in Lembata regency, Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara province. This was followed later overnight by Mount Semeru, on the border of Malang and Lumajang regencies, East Java province.

The two events appear to confirm warnings issued by experts and environmentalists that volcanic activity is intensifying across Indonesia, which is on the so-called Ring of Fire, a line around the Pacific characterised by earthquakes, eruptions and tsunamis.

The column of dust and ash from Mount Ile Ape, better known as Mount Ili Lewotolok, reached 1,500-2,000 metres.

The impressive sight forced residents of the surrounding areas to flee or seek refuge in safer places.

Meanwhile, local authorities set up a buffer zone of at least four kilometres from the mountain's crater to minimise the risk to human life in the event of more devastating eruptions.

On social media, religious leaders and local Christians repeated calls for protective masks and other emergency equipment.

Mount Semeru is also a source of concern whose eruption overnight on Monday into Tuesday night fuelled panic among local residents.

After scrambling to put together some basic items and necessities, many fled in search of shelter in other cities.

Famous as the tallest volcano in Java, Semeru has always held the attention of locals and foreign tourists who come to see the savannah that covers it, which is unusual compared to other volcanoes on the island.

During last night’s eruption, columns of smoke rose up to 3,000 metres, leading the authorities to evacuate the village of Oro or Ombo, Pronojjwo sub-district.

The nearby village of Supiturang saw panic, fear and pandemonium in the middle of the dark night.

According to Lumajang authorities, after several hours the situation remains precarious in two districts: Pronojiwo and Candipuro, the most affected by the emergency triggered by the eruption.

Thousands of displaced people will be evacuated in the coming days, said Wawan Hadi Siswoyo, a local official. They will be bought to Kamar Kajang, at an open-air shelter. If the situation improves, the emergency might end quickly.

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