Indonesia volcano erupts, spews ash and smoke

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Indonesia’s Mount Ili Lewotolok erupted Friday, belching a tower of smoke and ash almost a kilometer into the sky and prompting authorities to impose a no-go zone in the area.

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There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the eruption, which sent up a tower of volcanic smoke 700 meters (0.4 miles) high in a remote part of the Southeast Asian archipelago nation.

But authorities imposed an exclusion zone of two kilometers around the crater in East Nusa Tenggara province and advised nearby residents to wear masks to avoid respiratory problems, the Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center said.

Sugeng Mujiyanto, head of the country’s geological agency, warned residents in a statement to be alert for “potential dangers from lava flows and hot clouds.”

The volcano’s last major eruption came in late 2020, triggering a flight warning and shuttering the local airport while thousands were forced to flee their homes.

Ili Lewotolok’s alert status remained at its third-highest level after Friday’s eruption and authorities were yet to order any evacuations.

Indonesia is home to about 130 active 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.

In late 2018, a volcano in the strait between Java and Sumatra islands erupted, causing an underwater landslide that unleashed a tsunami which killed more than 400 people.

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