Mount Marapi erupts in Indonesia; no immediate reports of casualties

BUKITTINGGI, Indonesia: On December 2, Mount Marapi in West Sumatra province, Indonesia, erupted, sending hot ash clouds several miles (kilometers) away and spewing white-and-gray ash plumes more than 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) into the air.

In a statement at the Marapi monitoring post, Ahmad Rifandi, an official with Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center, said there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Several villages were blanketed with falling ash, blocking out the sun in many areas, and officials distributed masks and urged residents to wear eyeglasses to protect themselves from volcanic ash, said National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari.

Some 1,400 people live on Marapi’s slopes in Rubai and Gobah Cumantiang, the nearest villages around five to six kilometers (3.1 to 3.7 miles) away from the peak.

Abdul Muhari said that authorities had been closely monitoring the volcano after sensors picked up increasing activity in recent weeks, and they maintained Marapi’s alert level at the third-highest of four levels.

Marapi, among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, has been active since January when it erupted without causing fatalities.