En the day after the eruption of Semeru on the Indonesian main island of Java, the volcano has apparently calmed down again. “The volcano was clearly visible today,” the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Prevention said on Monday morning. Only thin white smoke could be seen near the summit.
Exactly twelve months to the day after the last eruption, there was another eruption on Sunday. The volcano had begun spewing ash into the air in the early hours of the morning. A mile-high cloud temporarily obscured the sky. At the beginning more than a dozen eruptions were measured.
Residents should leave the area around the mountain
Authorities declared an eight-kilometer restricted zone from the crater and a restricted restricted area 13 kilometers wide. They called on local residents to leave the area around the mountain. The warning system has been raised to the highest level. This means that the flows of lava and hot ash also threatened human settlements.
Photos showed people leaving the area on motorcycles. Around 2,000 residents had already fled on Sunday. They were housed in schools and other public buildings. After the most recent eruption, no deaths were reported as of Monday. The eruption in December 2021 killed around 50 people. Some villages were buried meters deep under ash. The eruption had also triggered mudslides that buried houses underneath.
Flows of rock and lava can reach temperatures of up to 1000 degrees
Even now, the lives of people in the east of the most populous Indonesian Java are being affected by the falling ash. According to the authorities, it mainly falls on land south of the volcano.
In the affected villages, residents have received protective masks. The Environment Ministry shared on Twitter video of a pyroclastic flow on the volcano’s surface. These flows of rock and lava can reach temperatures of up to 1000 degrees. Authorities warned that residents should keep a distance of at least 500 meters from rivers where the risk of lava flows is particularly high. The head of the volcanology department, Hendra Gunawan, warned that the cloud of ash and rock could endanger other areas depending on the wind direction.
An important connecting bridge, which had been destroyed in the last quake and then rebuilt, had now suffered damage again. At 3657 meters, Semeru is the highest mountain in Indonesia and has been active since at least 1967. It is one of almost 130 active fire mountains in Indonesia. The island state is located on the famous Pacific Ring of Fire, which regularly causes volcanic eruptions and earthquakes with the risk of tsunamis.
The eruption follows a series of earthquakes in Indonesia. More than 300 people were killed in an earthquake in western Java in November. For the Tengger Hindu minority living in the area, the “Big Mountain” is a sacred place. It is located in the Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and is popular with tourists for hiking and crater tours.
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