Authorities have continued to strengthen security around red-zone areas surrounding Mount Sinabung in Karo regency, North Sumatra, to prevent local residents from entering dangerous areas.
"Neither local residents nor refugees of Sinabung's eruptions are allowed to enter villages located within a 7-kilometer radius of the volcano," said Lt. Col. Asep Sukarna, head of the Mt Sinabung eruption's emergency response task force, as quoted by Antara on Sunday.
He said authorities were applying the prohibition as the volcano had shown quite high eruption intensity during the last several days and every day it was spewing hot clouds and volcanic ash.
"The hot clouds have passed a number of villages, such as Bekerah, Mardinding and Sukanalu, in Karo regency. This is very dangerous, so local residents should not make any attempt to enter their villages," said Asep.
He said several villagers were found to have secretly attempted to enter the restricted areas via bunds between rice fields. Local people should be aware that entering villages in the danger zone will put their lives at risk.
"We don't want any fatalities, caused by hot cloud and volcanic material, to affect local residents," said Asep, who is also the commander of the Karo Military District Command.
Asep further said around 500 military personnel had been deployed to prevent local people from entering the dangerous areas.
"The military personnel themselves are in areas deemed quite safe and are not entering restricted areas based on the recommendations of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG).
As of Sunday, the number of Sinabung evacuees has reached 10,606 people, or 3,121 families, from 11 villages. Those villages are Berastepu, Gurukinayan, Jaraya, Kutagugung, Kutarayat, Kutatengah, Mardingding, Pintu Besi, Sigarang-garang, Sukanalu and Tiga Pancur. They are accommodated in 10 temporary shelters.
The PVMBG has increased Sinabung's alert level from Alert Level 3, which is called Siaga (standby), to the highest level, Awas (beware).