July 11, 2011 – INDONESIA – Officials will evacuate hundreds of people living near Mount Lokon on Sulawesi Island after raising the volcano’s alert status to the highest level. “We raised the volcano’s status to the highest red alert level last night,” government volcanologist Kristianto told AFP. “There was a significant rise in volcanic activity since July 9. The volcano spewed ash 500m into the air over the weekend. “Today we will be evacuating people living within a 3.5km radius around the volcano as a precautionary measure, in case of a bigger eruption which may be accompanied by deadly searing gas.” Around 28,000 people live within the evacuation zone but only “hundreds” will be moved today, those in the path of the ash, as officials continue to monitor volcanic activity, disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. Officials said tourists would also be barred from going on popular day hikes to the 1580m Mount Lokon, one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia and located 20km away from North Sulawesi provincial capital of Manado. The volcano erupted in 1991, killing a Swiss tourist. Mount Soputan, another volcano in North Sulawesi province, erupted early this month, spewing ash and smoke 5000m into the air. 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. –News.com
Note: Double earthquakes, a 4.9 and a 5.0 rocked Sulawesi Indonesia today. Volcanic pressures within the Earth, as we noted from the magma plume activity, are increasing.