Indonesia Volcano Erupts, Forcing Evacuation Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Residents
A massive volcanic eruption that spewed ash and debris across the Indonesian island of Java Friday has killed at least two people, and forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 residents. Six airports were closed as ash, sand, and rocks flew up 12 miles into the air from the erupted Mount Kelud Friday morning. The country's government prompted a mass exodus, raising the eruption alert to its highest level.
Towns up to 124 miles away were affected, though officials say the eruption is gradually subsiding. Two people, a 60-year-old man and a 65-year-old woman, were killed after the roofs of theirs homes caved in, unable to withstand the weight of debris. Mount Kelud has been spouting ash for at least two days and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes on the island.
Some areas of Java are said to be covered in almost two inches of sand, and many people are still reluctant to abandon their homes and belongings, instead choosing to stay indoors.
One man said that "the smell of sulfur and ash hung so thickly in the air that breathing was painful." Evacuees are encouraged to wear safety masks to avoid smoke inhalation.
But Indonesia's residents are no stranger to volcanic eruptions; there are an estimated 130 volcanoes in the country. Hundreds were injured in Kelud's last major explosion in 1990, and at least 30 were killed. One of the most devastating incidents from the same volcano was back in 1919, when 5,160 people died.
On the island of Sumatra in western Indonesia, Mount Sinabung erupted in early February, killing at least 14 people.
More than 30,000 people have evacuated over the course of four months due to daily eruptions. Locals displaced from Sinabung have been living in shelters for so long that the government provided evacuees with "romance chambers," or bilik asmara, at their camps to allow couples some privacy.
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