Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi reportedly erupted on Wednesday morning (03/10). (Photo courtesy of Dakta.com)

Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi Erupts, No Immediate Need for Evacuation

BY :JOY MUCHTAR & ARI SUPRIYANTI RIKIN

OCTOBER 03, 2018

Jakarta. Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi reportedly erupted on Wednesday morning (03/10).

The Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) said the eruption started at 8.47 a.m. local time, when the volcano spewed a thick column of ash 4 kilometers into the air, which caused an ash fallout towards the west and northwest of the mountain.

The agency said it suspects the eruption was triggered by last week's magnitude-7.4 earthquake, followed by a 3-meter tsunami, in Central Sulawesi, which claimed the lives of more than 1,400 people, as of Wednesday.

Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado, which is located southeast of Mount Soputan, is still operating normally.

The government has closed the climbing route on the mountain and raised the level of alert to 3, which means a minor volcanic eruption.

Members of the public are requested not to approach within a 4-kilometer radius of the mountain and to wear face masks to prevent potential respiratory problems due to the ash. The authorities also advised people to stay at least 6.5 kilometers from the crater to avoid the potential threat of lava and hot gas.

The government has warned that potential lava flows could contaminate several rivers, such as the Ranowangko, Lawian, Popang and Londola Kelewahu, that originate on the slopes of Mount Soputan.

"We ask people involved in mining or horticultural activities not to do so around the mountain," said Erick Manaroinsong, head of the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) in Southeast Minahasa.

Mount Soputan was still active by Wednesday afternoon.

The BPBD observed an increase in seismic activity a day before the eruption, when it raised the level of alert to 2, which means that there was major unrest.

"Residents do not need to evacuate because it is still safe. There are no settlements within the 4-kilometer radius, so it is still safe," National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

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