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27 December 2011

Panic as Indonesian volcano erupts

One of Indonesia's most active volcanoes erupted Tuesday, spewing clouds of ash and panicking villagers but no evacuation has been ordered so far, a government vulcanologist said.

The first eruption at Mount Lokon was just after 3am in the morning, followed by two more bursts within minutes, Farid Bina

told AFP from a monitoring post near the volcano on Sulawesi island.

“The eruption was heard as far as five kilometres (three miles) away, causing panic among villagers living close to the volcano,” he said, adding that winds blew volcanic ash to villages up to five kilometres to the east and northeast.

“Two villages with about 10,000 people each have been affected by the ash, which stopped later in the morning,” he added.

More than 5,200 people were evacuated to temporary shelters when the 1580-metre volcano erupted in July, sending huge clouds of ash as high as 3500 metres (11 500 feet) into the sky.

Lokon's last deadly eruption was in 1991, killing a Swiss tourist.

The Indonesian archipelago has dozens of active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the “Ring of Fire” between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The country's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions last year.

-Sapa-AFP-IOL