Big cleanup after Sinabung eruption

Volcanic ash being cleared from the street in Karo, North Sumatra, yesterday after Mount Sinabung spewed thick ash and smoke across the area the day before. The heightened activity covered hundreds of houses outside the 7km danger zone in volcanic as
Volcanic ash being cleared from the street in Karo, North Sumatra, yesterday after Mount Sinabung spewed thick ash and smoke across the area the day before. The heightened activity covered hundreds of houses outside the 7km danger zone in volcanic ash.

JAKARTA • Picking up the pieces after Mount Sinabung's eruption this week, weary residents in Indonesia's North Sumatra began a massive cleanup to rid their homes and farmlands of thick layers of volcanic ash.

Located in the Karo regency, Sinabung - which has been rumbling since 2010 and saw deadly eruptions in 2014 and 2016 - spewed a massive column of ash and smoke some 5,000m into the sky on Monday.

The heightened activity covered hundreds of houses outside the 7km danger zone in volcanic ash.

Yesterday, students wearing face masks were seen sweeping away volcanic ash in a school yard, as people armed with brooms climbed onto roofs to clear their homes.

But the impact of Sinabung is far from over.

The Transport Ministry yesterday said Indonesia has raised the level of volcanic ash warning around Sinabung to the highest and shut an airport in nearby Aceh province.

"Notam (Notice to Airmen) is issued for the closure of Alas airport in Kutacane" because of yesterday's issue of the warning on the impact of Sinabung's volcanic ash, ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan told the Xinhua news agency by phone.

The spokesman said flights at the Kualanamu international airport in North Sumatra province were not affected despite volcanic ash heading to Aceh.

Sinabung roared back to life in 2010 for the first time in 400 years. After another period of inactivity, it erupted once more in 2013 and has remained highly active since.

In 2016, seven people died in one of Sinabung's eruptions, while a 2014 eruption left 16 people dead.

Indonesia is home to around 130 volcanoes due to its position on the "Ring of Fire", a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2018, with the headline 'Big cleanup after Sinabung eruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe