LifestyleIndonesia on high alert: Major volcanic eruption threatens thousands

Indonesia on high alert: Major volcanic eruption threatens thousands

The Ibu volcano emitted smoke and ash to a height of five km.
The Ibu volcano emitted smoke and ash to a height of five km.
Images source: © PAP

7:12 PM EDT, May 14, 2024

A powerful volcanic eruption occurred on one of the Indonesian islands, sending a column of smoke and ash up to 3 miles high. Tens of thousands of people are at risk of evacuation, though no orders have been given yet.

Indonesia is one of the world's most dangerous areas for volcanic activity. Eruptions are common, but the last one was notably large and spectacular. On Monday, May 13, the Ibu volcano on Halmahera island erupted. It released only thick clouds of smoke and ash without spewing lava.

This was the second eruption of Ibu in just a few days — the volcano also exploded on Friday, May 10. Given the volcano's restlessness and the absence of lava eruptions, the surrounding area has maintained a state of emergency.

State of Danger

Hendra Gunawan, the director of the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, announced that the volcano's emergency remains at its highest level.

The vicinity within a 3-mile radius of the eruption site has been cordoned off. Authorities advise residents and tourists to wear masks and glasses to protect against the falling ash.

Other Volcanoes Also Active

In recent weeks, two other significant volcanic incidents occurred. The Ruang volcano in North Sulawesi erupted, emitting fiery lava and necessitating the evacuation of over 12,000 people from a nearby island.

In December, more than 20 people died following the eruption of the Merapi volcano in Sumatra, one of the most active in the region. It sent clouds of gray ash up to 1.9 miles high.

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and many other countries lie near the Ring of Fire, a hotbed of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This area, encircling the Pacific Ocean, spans about 25,000 miles and includes oceanic trenches, island arcs, and active volcanoes.

Related content