Indonesia's Mount Semeru eruption heightens threat level

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Indonesia's Mount Semeru eruption heightens threat level

JAKARTA: Indonesia's Mount Semeru erupted on December 4 spewing hot ash clouds into the sky, prompting authorities to raise the volcano's alert status to the highest level of alert.

The eruption of the highest mountain on Indonesia's main island of Java about 800 km southeast of Jakarta sparked evacuations of nearby villages.

The increased threat level means the threat has threatened the people's settlement and the volcano's activity has escalated, Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center spokeswoman Hendra Gunawan told Kompas TV.

After the eruption, hot avalanches caused by piles of lave at the top of the volcano slid down, according to National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari.

Gunawan warned residents not to travel within 8 km of the crater after the threat level was raised to four, but there was no casualties or injuries immediately reported after the eruption.

The official said that shelters were being prepared for residents who were evacuating.

They were told to avoid a southeastern area of 13 km along a river in the direction where the ash was going.

A lot of people have started to go down, said Thoriqul Haq, the local administration chief for Lumajang, where the volcano is located, according to Kompas TV.

A video footage circulating on social media showed plumes of hot smoke rising from Semeru and at least one village covered in ash and the air a dark haze.