Red alert on Sulawesi as Mount Lokon erupts
An Indonesian volcano has erupted forcing over four thousand people to flee the rocks, lava and ash being thrown hundreds of metres into the air.
The increased activity of Mount Lokon on Sulawesi island comes a day after its alert status was raised to the highest level.
The volcano burst into life overnight Thursday spewing ash 500 metres into the air. Hundreds of people fled their homes in the middle of the night when they were woken by thunderous explosions and flashes of lightening.
Grass and shrubs within a 500 metres of the crater were reported to have caught fire, but by mid morning the flames had been extinguished.
The volanco’s increased activity has led to the setting up of a 3.5 kilometre evacuation zone in the case of a bigger eruption. Around 28,000 people live within the evacuation zone.
North Sulawesi disaster management head Hoykee Makarawung said more than 4,400 people have been evacuated so far. They are staying in six schools and would be barred from returning to their homes while the red alert remained in place.
The 1,580 metre Mount Lokon is one of the most active volanoes in Indonesia. It erupted in 1991, killing a Swiss tourist.
The country's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions last year.