08/29/2010, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Volcano warning in Sumatra as Mount Sinabung erupts

by Mathias Hariyadi
The last eruption took place in 1600. Ash clouds hover over the province, causing respiratory and eye problems in people. Flights in the area are hampered, as millions of Jakarta residents get ready to travel to their native villages to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – At least 12,000 people were forced to leave their homes in the early dawn today, following the huge volcanic eruption of Mount Sinabung, North Sumatra province. The volcano had been inactive since 17th century.

A thick cloud covers the sky the provincial capital of Medan. The eruption occurred at 00.15 am (local time) and awoke thousands of shocked local residents who had been reassured by the local geophysics and meteorology agency that the volcanic mountain was not a serious threat. Now the authorities have issued a volcano warning.

Rising to 2,400 metres, Mount Sinabung erupted the last time in 1600. Since then, it has been inactive.

As the evacuation gets underway, the greatest problem is the thick ash cloud that hovers over the province’s largest cities.

Respiratory and eye problems are the greatest dangers for people.

Local officials now expect an “ash rain” that could disrupt air travel in the area and the capital.

The eruption could also become a serious obstacle for millions of people who are travelling from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta to their native villages to celebrate Idul Fitri, the end of Ramadan on 9 September.

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