Volcano Erupts In Indonesia, Sending Toxic Ash Nearly 10,000 Feet Into The Air

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Fiona McLoughlin Contributor
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A volcano erupted in Indonesia Sunday, spewing ash almost 10,000 feet in the air, causing hot ash clouds to spread over several miles.

Mount Merapi in West Sumatra has been an active volcano since January, according to the Associated Press (AP). There were no immediate reports of casualties after it erupted Sunday, Ahmad Rifandi, an official with Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center, said per the AP.

Direct reports from the field say the “volcanic ash rain fell with such high intensity that it made the atmosphere in Nagari Lasi very thick and dark,” according to a news release.

Masks were distributed by authorities who urged residents to stay home as the intensity of volcanic ash rain can impact their health, per the release. (RELATED: Kilauea Volcano Erupts In Hawaii, Officials Urge Residents To Stay Indoors).

The volcano has two routes for climbers that were closed following the eruption, per the AP. Villagers living on the slopes were advised to stay away from the crater’s mouth to avoid potential lava.

About 70 climbers made their way up the 9,480-foot mountain Saturday and have since been stranded. Twenty-eight have been successfully evacuated, the AP reported. The rest are still waiting to be rescued.

About 1,400 people live on the slopes of Merapi. Multiple villages have been blanketed in ash, Abdul Muhari, a spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Agency, said, per the AP.

Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an area of fault lines and volcanoes in the Pacific Basin, per the AP. The country has over 120 active volcanoes. Mount Merapi erupted earlier this year in March, spewing ash and smoke over villages near the crater, according to Al Jazeera.