Indonesian authorities issued a high alert after the Semeru volcano on the island of Java erupted on Sunday (4). Approximately 2,000 people were evacuated from the region.
The volcano, on the highest mountain in Java, with more than 3,000 meters, spewed ash up to 15 km high. A year ago, an eruption in the same place left more than 50 dead and dozens injured and homeless.
There are no reports of casualties or damage from Sunday’s eruption. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Transport, the air travel sector, at least for now, was also not impacted, but alerts were sent to two regional airports.
“Most of the roads have been closed and now it’s raining volcanic ash that has covered the mountain,” Bayu Deny Alfianto, a volunteer from the Java community, told Reuters news agency.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation body said local residents were given masks to protect against ash and moved to shelters.
The eruption began overnight local time, and efforts to rescue, search and evacuate residents continue. The height of the ash cloud was verified by the Japan Meteorological Agency, which even monitored the possibility of a tsunami – later ruled out.
The eruption, about 400 miles (640 km) east of the country’s capital Jakarta, follows a series of earthquakes in west Java, including the one last month that killed approximately 300 people.
The Indonesia Center for Volcanology and Mitigation of Geological Hazards (PVMBG) advised residents to maintain a distance of at least eight kilometers from the Semeru volcano.
PVMBG head Hendra Gunawan said that a greater volume of magma may have accumulated compared to the 2021 and 2020 eruptions, which would represent a more dangerous situation. “The warm clouds of the [vulcão] Semeru can reach further and at a distance where there are many houses.”
In video sent to Reuters by local police, residents were seen moving away from the slopes of the volcano. A damaged bridge was covered in volcanic ash.
With 142 volcanoes, Indonesia has the world’s largest population living near a volcano, with 8.6 million people located within a 10 km radius of one. Last week, the largest active volcano in the world, Mauna Loa, located in Hawaii, spewed lava jets up to 60 meters high. It was the first time in nearly 40 years that the volcano had erupted.