Volcanos erupt in Indonesia and Ecuador

Scores killed in Indonesia, spectacular eruption in Ecuador

Last updated 11:01 03/02/2014
Reuters Zoom
The Tungurahua volcano erupts in Banos, February 1, 2014. The volcano, which has been in an eruption process since 1999, erupted on Saturday, sending ash and pyroclastic material into the atmosphere.

At least 15 dead from volcano

Tungurahua volcano erupts in Ecuador

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At least 15 dead from volcano Tungurahua volcano erupts in Ecuador Mount Sinabung erupts Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupts

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Two volcanoes have erupted in two parts of the world at the weekend, one with deadly effect.

At least 15 people have been killed by a volcanic eruption on Mount Sinabung on Indonesia's Sumatra island, while the search continues for dozens believed missing.

Meanwhile in Ecuador, a blast created an 8 kilometre column of ash above the Tungurahua volcano.

A 24-year-old man badly burned when Mt Sinabung spewed searing rocks and gas on Saturday (local time) died in hospital, while two other victims were being treated for serious injuries, said Sutopo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.

Fourteen bodies were found hours after Saturday's eruption.

"There are reports that some more bodies have been found but we don’t know how many," Nugroho said.

Mount Sinabung, which has been rumbling since September, erupted again on Saturday after a few days of lull when some residents began returning to their homes nearby.

The disaster agency said pyroclastic flows from the latest eruption travelled as far as 4.5 kilometres down the volcano’s slopes at a speed of 100 kilometres per hour, destroying everything on their path.

Rescuers found 14 bodies, and said the death toll could rise after some residents who went up to tend to their crops on the volcano’s slopes did not show up at their emergency shelters.

Earlier on Sunday, an aid worker said at least 50 people were still missing.

"We lost contact with 50 residents," said Benny Kaban, a local Protestant minister and aid worker. "They usually returned to their shelters at 6 in the evening."

Most of the 14 victims died in a village less than 3 kilometres from the peak of Mount Sinabung, officials said.

The government last month extended the exclusion zone from 5 kilometres to 7, but on Friday, the National Disaster Management Agency said residents living in 16 villages farther than 5 kilometres from the peak were allowed to return home after days of quiet.

Local media reported that seven of those killed were students of a Christian university in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, who were volunteering to help displaced people.

More than 30,000 people have sought refuge in government buildings, churches, schools and mosques since the latest round of eruptions began four months ago.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday expressed condolences for the deaths and urged residents to be patient.

"To residents and aid workers, please avoid the danger zone," Yudhoyono said on his official Twitter account. "Eruptions can happen any time."

The 2460-metre volcano had been dormant for 400 years before it erupted in August 2010.

The Indonesian archipelago is home to nearly 130 active volcanoes.

Weeks of eruptions by Mount Merapi on Java left more than 350 people dead and 150,000 displaced in 2010.

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Meanwhile, Ecuador's Geophysics Institute is reporting that the Tungurahua volcano has erupted three times, spewing ash and lava in what it called an important increase in activity.

The institute said that two moderate explosions on Saturday (local time)  were followed by a third of greater size, and pyroclastic flow stretched 500 metres down its flank. The blasts created an 8 kilometre column of ash above the volcano, which is located 135 kilometres southeast of the capital, Quito.

Authorities said the lava reached the lower part of a ravine called Achupashal, blocking a route to a tourist site called Banos.

Tungurahua is 5023 metre high and has been active since 1999. An outburst in 2006 left four dead and two missing.

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