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Mount Marapi Erupts Again, Forcing Evacuation of Over 150 Individuals in Indonesia

Sumatra, Indonesia - January 14, 2024

Mount Marapi, the highly active volcano in Sumatra, Indonesia, erupted once again on Sunday morning, emitting volcanic ash that covered nearby villages and resulted in the evacuation of over 150 individuals. The eruption occurred at 6:21 am local time, projecting dense volcanic ash 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) above the crater, drifting southwest.

Authorities had raised the alert level of Mount Marapi to the second-highest last week due to heightened volcanic activity. Under the new alert level, evacuation was mandated within a 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile) radius from the crater. A total of 158 villagers had evacuated to their relatives' homes since Friday. While permitted to return during the day to check their livestock, staying within the exclusion zone at night was discouraged.

Bambang Warsito, the head of the regency's disaster mitigation agency, a local official, stated, “As per the recommendations of the volcanology agency, villagers within 4.5 kilometers of the exclusion zone should avoid staying at home at night. Shelters have also been prepared if needed.”

Concerns were expressed about potential lava threats, particularly for those living near the valley or riverbanks below Marapi's peak, especially during the rainy season.

To address health hazards linked to volcanic ash, the local government set up health posts and distributed complimentary face masks to affected communities. The ash rain from the eruption posed additional challenges for residents, necessitating extra measures to safeguard their well-being.

Mount Marapi had previously erupted in December, ejecting an ash column 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) into the sky. The eruption resulted in a tragic loss of 24 lives, with several others sustaining injuries. Indonesia, situated on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," frequently experiences seismic and volcanic activities due to tectonic plate movements. Mount Marapi is one of almost 130 active volcanoes in the Indonesian archipelago, renowned for its unpredictable eruptions.

The Marapi Volcano Observation Post in West Sumatra province documented the recent eruption on January 14. An ash column approximately 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) high was followed by ash rain. Fortunately, no casualties were reported in this latest event. 158 residents had been evacuated since Friday, highlighting the ongoing need for vigilance and preparedness in the face of unpredictable volcanic activity in the region. Presently, around 1,400 people reside on Marapi's slopes, underscoring the importance of ensuring the safety of the local population in potential future eruptions.


Photo credit: Antara Foto

Edited by: Jaya Jha

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