The government has lowered the alert level for North Sulawesi’s Mount Karangetang following a decrease in lava and pyroclastic flows produced by the erupting volcano.
Raden Sukhyar, head of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources’ geological division, said on Sunday that the alert had been downgraded from the highest level of four (danger) to three (beware).
“We urge residents of the villages of Kinali, Winangun and Mini to remain in the evacuation camps or someplace safe for the time being,” he said.
There is a continuing risk of molten lava or superheated gas clouds rushing down the volcano’s slopes, he said.
“We also call on people to stay calm and not to pay attention to groundless speculation about future eruptions,” he said. “And always follow the instructions issued by the local disaster mitigation agency.”
Sukhyar also warned people living by the banks of the rivers flowing down Karangetang to be on high alert for lahar, or volcanic mud washed down from the mountain’s slopes.
Torrential downpours last week across Sitaro district on Siau Island, where the volcano is located, caused flash floods downstream of Karangetang.
Exkuwin Suharyanto, a spokesman for the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), said his office had distributed tents, food, face masks and hygiene kits to residents of villages on the volcano’s slopes.
“The kits have reached the affected people and the local PMI team is ready to assist the evacuees,” he said.
Last week, rain across much of North Sulawesi hampered efforts to distribute aid to residents fleeing the volcano.
Officials were only able to distribute aid to residents of Mini and Lehi villages. They were unable to reach the residents of Kinali village because access had been cut off.
Two bridges leading to Kinali were heavily damaged in the downpours, along with a church and one home.
However, the residents of Kinali were helped by the Indonesian Navy before members of the PMI arrived.
Karangetang, which is 1,784 meters high, is one of the country’s most active volcanoes. More than 40 eruptions have been recorded at the volcano since 1675. Its last eruption, in August 2010, killed four people.