Indonesia's Ruang Volcano Erupts, Triggering Evacuations and Disrupting Flights

Indonesia's Ruang volcano erupted, prompting evacuations, airport closures, and concerns over potential tsunamis. The eruption's spectacular displays of lava, ash, and lightning underscore the ongoing risks of Indonesia's active volcanoes.

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Nitish Verma
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Indonesia's Ruang Volcano Erupts, Triggering Evacuations and Disrupting Flights

Indonesia's Ruang Volcano Erupts, Triggering Evacuations and Disrupting Flights

On April 17, 2023, Indonesia's Ruang volcano in North Sulawesi province erupted multiple times, prompting authorities to evacuate thousands of residents and temporarily close the nearest international airport. The eruptions produced a spectacular mix of lava, ash columns reaching heights of up to 3,900 feet, and over 13,000 lightning strikes, peaking at 42 strikes per second as recorded by Vaisala's GLD360 global lightning detection network.

The initial eruption began at around 7:19 pm local time on April 16 and was followed by at least ten more eruptions over the next few days. Authorities raised the volcano's alert level to the highest scale and extended the exclusion zone around the crater to 6 kilometers (3.7 miles), leading to the evacuation of over 11,000 people from the islands of Ruang and southwest Tagulandang. "A joint team from local authorities evacuated residents to safer areas by boats," reported local officials.

The volcanic activity caused significant disruptions to air travel, with Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado, located less than 100 kilometers from the volcano, being closed due to the detection of volcanic ash. The closure affected dozens of flights and thousands of passengers, with flights to Jakarta, Surabaya, Sorong, Balikpapan, and several international destinations being postponed.

Why this matters: The eruption of Ruang volcano highlights the ongoing risks posed by Indonesia's numerous active volcanoes, which can have far-reaching impacts on the safety and well-being of local communities, as well as disrupt transportation and economic activities in the region. The country's location along the Pacific "Ring of Fire" makes it particularly prone to seismic and volcanic events, underscoring the importance of monitoring, early warning systems, and emergency preparedness.

Officials are closely monitoring the situation and have warned that the threat from the volcano is not over, as volcanic earthquakes indicate that magmatic fluid is still moving from the depth to the surface. Authorities are particularly concerned about the possibility of a tsunami if a large part of the volcano collapses into the sea, as happened during the 1871 eruption. Residents have been advised to wear masks to avoid respiratory problems caused by the volcanic ash, which has covered homes, roads, and other structures in the affected areas.

Key Takeaways

  • Ruang volcano in Indonesia erupted multiple times, prompting evacuations.
  • Eruptions produced lava, ash columns up to 3,900 ft, and over 13,000 lightning strikes.
  • Authorities raised alert level, extended exclusion zone, and evacuated over 11,000 people.
  • Volcanic activity disrupted air travel, with flights to major destinations postponed.
  • Officials warn of ongoing threat, including potential tsunami from volcano collapse.