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10/28/2007

Indonesia's 'Child of Krakatoa' volcano spews ash, smoke; prompts warning

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THIRD VOLCANO BECOMES ACTIVE - ANAK KRAKATOA - The Indonesian volcano known as the "Child of Krakatoa" has been spewing ash and smoke, prompting warnings of a possible eruption. The mountain in the Sunda Strait, 130 kilometres west of Jakarta, formed after the giant Krakatoa eruption of 1883 that killed tens of thousands of people and was the largest explosion in recorded history. "Activity at Anak Krakatoa increased yesterday [Friday] and there were several small eruptions. We have upgraded the alert level to the second highest." Anak Krakatoa is the third volcano to become active in recent weeks in Indonesia, a sprawling country of more than 17,000 islands. Indonesia has about 150 volcanoes. Krakatoa's massive 1883 blast, heard nearly 3,200 kilometres away in Australia, sent pyroclastic surges of gas and burning ash which, combined with a tsunami, wiped out 165 villages and killed at least 36,417 people. It destroyed two-thirds of the island of Krakatoa between Java and Sumatra.



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Krakatau normally produces five tremors per hour. From Oct. 24 to 26, experts detected 20 tremors an hour. The volcano also spewed white-grey smoke plumes 80 to 200 meters high. Lava flow is yet to be seen so the status is not yet critical. The last time Krakatau was put on alert status was in 2000, when it emitted lava.



INDONESIA - MOUNT KELUT - A scientist warned on Wednesday that all indications pointed to the imminent eruption of Mount Kelut volcano on the Indonesian island of Java, despite few obvious signs of activity. Mount Kelut was put on high alert on October 16, triggering efforts to evacuate about 130,000 people living within 10 kilometres (six miles) of its crater. The mountain has been quiet for the past few days, with no drastic changes in the frequency and magnitude of volcanic and tectonic quakes affecting the area. The signs leading to an eruption usually follow the same pattern. "The trend is that the centers of the shallow volcanic quakes are moving closer and closer to the surface, and this is the normal pattern prior to an eruption. "They (the quake centers) are now less than one kilometre beneath the crater's floor but the mountain will only erupt when these are accompanied by shallow quakes of large amplitude and long, continuous tremors." Some villagers said they would not evacuate until told to do so by the 64-year-old spiritual leader. Geologists have said they expect an eruption of Kelut would lead to "heat clouds," searing gasses and volcanic debris rushing down the slopes. Kelud's temperature continued to rise on Friday, an indication that an eruption is imminent.



INDONESIA - MOUNT SOPUTAN - The erupting volcano on Indonesia's Sulawesi island began spewing hot lava on Friday, a day after shooting ash some 1,500m into the air, an official said, although nearby villages were still not being ordered to evacuate. Mount Soputan volcano, which lies in North Sulawesi province, likely was producing a small lava flow, but authorities were unable to spot it because the crater remained covered by clouds. Soputan has been at a Level 3 alert since its last eruption in December 2006 due to its "short duration activity" - meaning it only experiences tremors for short periods before erupting, as was the case on Thursday morning. A Level 4 alert is only given when an active volcano is threatening the safety of people living nearby, but the villages closest to Soputan are eight kilometres away. "Historically, the lava trails from this mountain are a maximum of three kilometres."
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