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Mount Ruang volcano erupts again, forces airport closure

MANADO, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s Mount Ruang volcano erupted Tuesday for a second time in two weeks, spewing ash nearly 2 kilometers (more than a mile) into the sky, closing an airport and peppering nearby villages with debris.

The alert level of the Sulawesi island volcano has been raised to the highest level again by Indonesia’s geological survey, after sensors detected increasing volcanic activity. The agency urged residents and climbers to stay at least 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the volcano’s crater.

The 725-meter (2,378-foot) volcano in North Sulawesi province is about 95 kilometers (59 miles) northeast of Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado, the provincial capital.

The airport was closed Tuesday morning due to reduced visibility and the dangers ash poses to plane engines, said Ambar Suryoko, head of the regional airport authority.

Ash, gravel and stones fell from the sky in towns across the region, including Manado, a city of more than 430,000 where motorists had to turn on their headlights during the day.

“It was dark with stones raining on the post because of the eruption,” said Yulius Ramopolii, head of the Mount Ruang monitoring post. “The vibrations were intense and knocked out the electricity, and the volcanic earthquakes shook the windows and everything around us.”

He said the eruption blocked the sun and peppered several villages with falling debris. No casualties were reported, Ramopolii said.

More than 11,000 people were evacuated after the April 17 eruption. authorities have warned that a major eruption could collapse part of the volcano into the sea and cause a tsunami which could endanger neighboring villages.

Fewer than 3,000 people remained in temporary shelters after the government lowered its alert level ranked second out of four levels and reopened the airport after four days.

Indonesia’s geological agency on Tuesday warned residents of Tagulandang Island, especially those living near the coast, of the risk of hot volcanic clouds and a tsunami from eruptions of material entering the sea or the collapse of a volcanic dome into the sea.

Ruang is one of approximately 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia. The archipelagic nation is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” – a series of fault lines stretching from the western coasts of the Americas through Japan and the South East Asia.


Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Edna Tarigan in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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