Volcanic ash in N. Sumatra, floods in W. Papua force villagers to flee

Volcanic ash in N. Sumatra, floods in W. Papua force villagers to flee

INDONESIA - The pyroclastic flow of hot volcanic ash discharged from the powerful eruption of Mount Sinabung, in Karo regency, North Sumatra, on Thursday threatened the safety of nearby residents.

As a result, 10 villages located at the foot of the volcano had been evacuated as of Thursday afternoon, due to the danger from the pyroclastic flow. The vacated villages are Simacem, Bekerah, Suka Meriah, Gurukinayan, Mardinding, Sigarang-garang, Berastepu, Hutagunggung, Laukawar and Gamber.

Karo regency administration spokesman Jhonson Tarigan said Gamber was the latest village to be evacuated because the pyroclastic cloud was heading in its direction on Thursday.

"The pyroclastic flow has started threatening the safety of residents as it has reached the villages," he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He said the farthest flow of the hot ash, of around 1,200 meters southeast toward Gamber village, compared to the previous 800 meters, took place at 7 a.m. local time.

About 600 villagers from Gamber were evacuated on Thursday.

Jhonson added that as of 2:30 p.m. more than 7,000 residents had been evacuated from the 10 villages. They are being accommodated at 13 shelters in Tiga Nderket, Payung, Namanteran and Kabanjahe districts. He said the evacuees badly needed relief aid, such as clothing and food to survive in the shelters.

"We have run out of supplies. We don't know when the eruptions will stop so that evacuees can return to their homes," he said, adding that he hoped for help from donors.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the intensity of eruption of Mount Sinabung was increasing.

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