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Monday, August 29, 2011 9:59:58 PM (IST)  

Indonesia: Mount Lokon activity declines as Marapi spews out white cloud

SULAWESI, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) -- Indonesia's Mount Lokon, located on the northern tip of the island of Sulawesi, showed declining activity on Monday after erupting several times last week, authorities said. Meanwhile, new activity has been reported at Mount Marapi.

Mount Lokon erupted as many as 12 times on Sunday, but it only erupted once on Monday at around 10.35 a.m. local time, spewing out volcanic materials about 250 meters (820 feet) high, volcano monitoring post staff member Jemmy Runtuwene told the Antara news agency.

On Sunday, monitoring staff recorded 65 deep volcanic earthquakes and 93 shallow earthquakes. During the first six hours of Monday, only seven earthquakes were registered in the area near the volcano.

Officials at the Volcanic and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center kept the volcano's alert status at Alert as of early Tuesday morning, but the alert could be lowered if activity continues to decline.

On August 17, Mount Lokon began to spew volcanic ash which fell as far away as the Kinilow I village and the Tinoor areas in North Tomohon sub district, which is a short distance from Lokon's crater.

Mount Lokon has shown constant volcanic activity since June, prompting authorities to raise its status to Alert on June 27 and Watch on July 10. A series of eruptions in mid-July forced at least 5,269 locals from the villages of Kinilow, Kelurahan Kinilow I and Kakaskasen 1 to evacuate the area.

While most residents returned to their homes later that month, some 222 people remain at temporary refugee camps because their homes are in Mound Lokon's red zone - 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) from its crater. After July's activity, Mount Lokon's alert level was lowered from Watch to Alert, and has remained at this level since.

Meanwhile, officials reported thick white smoke coming from Mount Marapi in West Sumatra on Sunday morning. Smoke could be seen gushing out of the crater and reaching up to 100 meters (328 feet).

Chief Warsono at the Volcanic and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center said Mount Marapi's alert level remains at level II, banning anyone from being closer than 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) to its crater.

Marapi, which stands 2,981 meters (9,780 feet) above sea level, became active in early August. It is located in the Tanahdatar sub-district, of West Sumatra and has been spewing volcanic ash with sulfuric smell up to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high.

Dozens of active volcanoes in Indonesia are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, known for frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Next to Mount Lokon is its volcanic twin, Mount Empung, just 2.2 kilometers (1.3 miles) away.

One of Indonesia's most active volcanoes is Mount Merapi, which is located on the island of Java near Jogjakarta, the country's second-most visited area after Bali. Last year, more than 300 people were killed in a series of eruptions between October and November which also displaced over 300,000 people.



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