KARO, Indonesia – Authorities extended a danger zone around a rumbling volcano in western Indonesia today after it spewed blistering gas farther than expected, sending panicked residents streaming down the sides of the mountain.
Mount Sinabung’s booming explosion just after midnight triggered a panicked evacuation. Men with ash-covered faces streamed down the scorched slopes on motorcycles, followed by truckloads of women and children. Officials barked out orders on bullhorns as rocks and debris rained from the sky.
More than 50 eruptions on Saturday sent lava and searing gas tumbling out of the volcano in North Sumatra province down the southeastern slopes up to three miles away, said Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. The volcano was still spitting clouds of gas and lava as high as 13,000 feet in several eruptions today. No casualties were reported.
Nugroho said the danger zone southeast of the volcano was extended from three to four miles from the crater.
More than 20,000 people have been evacuated from villages around the crater into several temporary shelters since authorities raised the alert status for Sinabung to the highest level in November.
The 8,530-foot Mount Sinabung has sporadically erupted since September. An eruption in 2010 killed two people and caught scientists off guard because the volcano had been quiet for four centuries.