Villagers Evacuated As Fears Of Volcano Eruption Grow In Indonesia

Photo taken on Jan. 4, 2024 shows volcanic material spewing from Mount Merapi, as seen from Tunggul Arum Village in Indonesia.

Himalaya Times
Read Time = 3 mins

Maria Leba and her relatives have been living in a tent in a garden over the past several days following an increasing volcanic activity of Mount Lewotobi Laki-Laki in the southeastern part of the Indonesian island of Flores.

The multiple eruptions of Lewotobi Laki-Laki in East Flores Regency in the province of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) over the past month have forced an evacuation of more than 2,000 people from a total of seven villages.

Public facilities, including schools and airports, were also forced to close in the affected areas.

The dangerous level for the volcano, 1,584 meters above sea level, has been raised from Level II to Level III, below the country's highest Level IV, since Monday.

An eruption of the volcano on Monday spewed volcanic ash up to 1,500 meters above its peak, according to the country's Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG), with people having been advised to avoid the exclusion zone around the main crater three-kilometer radius due to potential hazards of pyroclastic flows.

Leba's house is at Dulipali, a village situated at least three kilometers from the peak of the volcano. The garden, meanwhile, is located about two kilometers from her house, which she thinks is "safe enough for evacuation."

"The volcano roared very powerful and it had so much ash. We were scared of the volcanic eruption," Leba told Xinhua in a phone interview on Thursday.

The 28-year-old said that at least 400 people, including her husband with two children, were currently taking shelter in the garden where all tents were built by people from her village voluntarily.

She explained that the people from her village chose the garden as their evacuation spot because it is away from ashfall areas.

"I also take two pet dogs of mine along with us here because they can sense disasters better than us. They are very protective," said Leba.

However, those staying in the garden are currently facing food shortages and in need of clean water and medicines, which Leba hoped that the authorities would provide to them as soon as possible.

"There are a lot of children in the tent with some elderly people with disabilities. The situation is very concerning," she said.

East Flores administration chief Doris Alexander Rihi imposed a two-week disaster emergency status at the regency on Monday, requiring the joint team of rescue workers to handle the disaster during that period.

East Flores Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) told local media on Thursday that they had distributed food and other supplies to evacuees, but admitted that it is currently running low on food.

"At present, our stocks of rice, drinking water and cooking spices are running low. So we are really hoping for aid from others to help the evacuees," said Yohanes Hayon, the agency's prevention and preparedness division head.

According to the agency, the number of registered evacuees as of Wednesday was 2,411.

Meanwhile, NTT police chief Daniel Tahi Silitonga said on Thursday up to 400 personnel along with several disaster response equipment have been readied to be transported to the affected areas.

From the province's capital Kupang, he also called for the public not to be tricked by false information on the volcano eruption.

Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is one of the countries with the most volcanoes in the world.


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