KARO,North Sumatra- The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has instructed all relevant ministries, government institutions, local disaster mitigation agencies and the Karo regency administration in North Sumatra to prepare for a worst-case scenario following an increase in Mount Sinabung's volcanic activity during the past week.
The worst-case scenario would be applied if the evacuation zone reaches between 7.5 kilometers and 10 km from the crater.
Currently, the evacuation zone is still between 5 and 7 km on the southeast slope of the volcano.
"No activity is allowed on this side of the volcano. It has to be free of any activity," BNPB spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
He said this particular part of the volcano was particularly vulnerable to disaster as it was the lane for the volcano's pyroclastic flows.
He added that there were already 60 pyroclastic flows running from the crater of Mt. Sinabung, stretching to a distance of between 2 and 5 km down the slope of the volcano. He also said that the volume of the pyroclastic flows was increasing every day.
In light of the potential danger proposed by the flows, Sutopo said, the emergency response team had evacuated people from the two subdistricts of Jerawa and Pintu Besi, which are located along the tracks of the flows. The two subdistricts are located 6.5 km from the crater.
With this latest evacuation, the number of displaced persons has currently reached more than 6,300 families, comprising over 20,000 people. They are being accommodated at 32 evacuation centers.
Sutopo said that BNPB head Syamsul Maarif had instructed all relevant institutions to prepare mitigation measures.
"Learning from Mount Merapi's eruptions in 2010, during which increased volcanic activity was followed by an increase in the evacuation radius from 5 km to 10, 15 and then 20 km, preparations for dealing with evacuees must be conducted well," he said, referring to one of the world's most active volcanoes that is located on the border of Central Java and Yogyakarta.