Authorities on Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung volcano cut off power to villages surrounding the volcano on Wednesday due to the risk of eruptions. Satellite data was used to predict the possible effects of a major eruption.
Sinabung remains out of bounds, with no roads leading to the mountain as it continues to gas up from an eruption last year. But authorities say those closest to the volcano live on high ground surrounded by peat bog, where pressure is building. Sinabung is located at an elevation of about 2,600 feet, and any movement in its crater has the potential to cause a lethal tailfall of lava.
In a country that is still digging out from a 2017 eruption that killed about 200 people, recent incidents have raised concerns about the fragility of both Indonesia’s volcanoes and its crevices.
Waves of lava and muddy tons of debris have often resulted after major eruptions, including January’s Mount Sinabung eruption that killed at least 35 people in a nearby village. Experts said huge swaths of peat on Sinabung’s summit, unable to be dissolved, had formed a flammable blanket and started flowing toward the village of Cepuluk, once home to about 150 people.
Fresh eruptions from Mount Raung in Indonesia’s biggest island of Java have also ravaged lives and livelihoods in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, about 2,000 people near the volcano fled their homes as a red-hot crater lake threatened to overflow.
A new eruption forced the evacuation of the village of Batu Cimitung. An elderly man died and another 17 were hospitalized, said Yudhoyono Nasution, an emergency point worker for the national disaster agency.
Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini contributed to this report.