Indonesia's Mount Lokon volcano erupts twice

Associated Press
Mount Lokon spews volcanic smoke as seen from Tomohon, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Monday, July 18, 2011. The volatile volcano in central Indonesia has erupted again Monday, spewing ash almost 2,000 feet (600 meters) into the air.(AP Photo)
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TOMOHON, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian volcano spewed hot gases and ash in two eruptions Monday that show high and unpredictable activity from the volatile mountain, experts said.

The second blast at Mount Lokon was the larger of the two afternoon eruptions, spewing ash as high as 2,000 feet (600 meters) into the air, said Farid Ruskanda Bina, a government volcanologist stationed near the volcano on northern Sulawesi island. The eruptions were about 10 minutes apart.

The long-dormant mountain rumbled to life last week, and an eruption Sunday released the greatest amount of energy so far, shooting soot and debris 11,400 feet (3,500 meters) into the sky.

About 5,200 people living nearest the crater have fled in recent days to schools, mosques and other makeshift shelters near the base. More than 33,000 people live along the slopes of Mount Lokon, growing cloves and coffee on its fertile slopes.

No injuries or damages were reported from Monday's eruptions, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency. One person died of a heart attack during an evacation last week.

Some residents in Manado, the provincial capital of North Sulawesi, located about 10 miles east of Mount Lokon, have complained of respiratory problems caused by smoke and falling ash.

Mount Lokon is one of about 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia. Its last major eruption in 1991 killed a Swiss hiker and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 240 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanoes because it sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the Pacific Ocean.

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