The Jakarta Post, Karo, North Sumatra, Thu, April 02 2015
Mount Sinabung, located in Karo regency, North Sumatra, erupted again on Wednesday, triggering pyroclastic flows and emitting plumes of ash that blanketed a number of villages and disrupted daily routines.
The eruption, which took place at 11:35 a.m. local time, caused panic among local residents who had just returned home from a previous evacuation. Most were farming when the eruption took place.
“We instinctively ran to the hut when Mt. Sinabung erupted. The thick ash limited our visibility,” local resident Nelsi Singarimbun told The Jakarta Post in Temburun village on Wednesday.
Nelsi said his farm was just 1 kilometer away from the volcano. Despite the proximity, he added, so far, his home had remained safe from the pyroclastic flows.
“Our homes have only been covered by ash. We are used to the ash, as it happens whenever Mt. Sinabung erupts,” said Nelsi, adding his village was located west of the volcano.
Head of the Mt. Sinabung Observation Center at the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG), Armen Daulay, said the reddish volcanic ash emitted by the volcano was due to special geologic processes.
“Today’s eruption was apparently stronger than those that occurred on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The intensity has increased, which may have caused the ash to turn red,” said Armen.
He added his center had recommended extending the pyroclastic flow watch-area from 5 km to 6 km south of the volcano due to the volcano’s heightened intensity.
We estimate the pyroclastic flow could reach more than 4.7 km, as the flow path has been cleared by previous eruptions,” Armen told the Post on Wednesday.
He said the pyroclastic flow would billow south, and that the center had recommended the immediate evacuation of residents living in villages on the southern slope.
Karo Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Subur Tambun said seven such villages had already been relocated.
Subur said residents would receive compensation from the government in the form of homes and farms in the Siosar area in Merek district.
Subur said residents were already accustomed to the evacuation protocol, except for recommendation from the PVMBG.
“Residents are already used to the situation. They know what to do in the event of an eruption,” said Subur, adding the area most impacted by the eruption on Wednesday was the western Tiganderket district.
Subur acknowledged that activity on Mt. Sinabung remained high, but that the government should nonetheless refrain from evacuating residents in the event of an eruption.
“The residents are tired of being evacuated. Let them live a normal life now at home. We will evacuate them if there is a recommendation,” said Subur.