Mount Kelut Emits Ash, Lava

BLITAR, East Java ~ Scientists have warned residents living on the slopes of a brewing volcano in East Java to keep their distance, after it spewed ash and lava despite a downgraded alert.

Last week the authorities modified a warning that Mount Kelut was about to erupt, after it appeared that the volcano was only experiencing a slow eruption and was unlikely to explode.

Volcanic activity is still high, however, with tremors continuing and a lava dome, created by lava oozing through cracks, emerging from the crater like an “island” and continuing to expand.

“Lava is constantly shooting out of the crater. We recommend people keep a distance since there is always the danger of lava material catapulting far from the crater,” volcanologist Agus Budianto said.

“Amazing visuals can be seen from our CCTV (closed-circuit television)… The island is now 250 meters in diameter and stands 120 meters above the lake surface,” he added.

Residents are being warned to stay at least three kilometers from the crater. The danger zone was a 10-kilometre radius around the crater when the volcano was on its top alert, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people who have since returned home.

Smoke plumed up to two kilometers out of Mount Kelut on Sunday afternoon and ash covered a number of villages around the volcano.

“We have not made our own observations, but we heard reports of ash rain in several surrounding villages,” volcanologist Jajang said from a monitoring post near the nearby town of Kediri.

Several volcanoes in Indonesia, which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where continental plates collide, have roared to life in recent weeks.

The archipelago is home to about 130 active volcanoes, including 21 in Java.

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