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Mount Semeru spews ash and smoke in Indonesia’s Java island

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Indonesia’s Mount Semeru has erupted, pouring ash and smoke an estimated 5.6km (3.4 miles) into the sky above Java, the country’s most densely populated island.

There were no immediate evacuations, but the National Disaster Mitigation Agency warned people who live in the villages on the slopes of the 3,676-metre high mountain to be vigilant in looking for signs of danger.

Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said that people around the river basin on the slopes of the mountain should beware of high rainfall intensity that can trigger lava floods.

Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center did not raise Semeru’s alert status, which already had been at the third-highest level since it began erupting in May.

“The villages of Sumber Mujur and Curah Koboan [in Lumajang municipality] are located in the trajectory of the hot clouds,” local official Thoriqul Haq said on Saturday.

Residents of the Curah Kobokan river basin have been urged to watch for possible “cold lava” mudflow, which can be triggered by intense rainfall combining with volcanic material.

The volcano spewed hot ash for 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) in early December, triggering panic among villagers.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 250 million people, sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.

Semeru – also known as “The Great Mountain” – is the highest volcano in Java and one of the most active. It is also one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist hiking destinations.

The volcano previously erupted in December, when about 550 people were evacuated.

Within the last week, Indonesia has endured multiple landslides, a deadly earthquake on Sulawesi island, and the loss of a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 with 62 people on board.

A strong earthquake shook Indonesia’s Sulawesi island early Friday, killing at least 46 people.

AP

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