An official has warned people living on the slopes of Mount Bromo in East Java to be on high alert after a surge in volcanic activity on Wednesday.
Bromo was put on level 4 alert, the highest status, after it began erupting on Nov. 4. Twelve days later, the government downgraded it to level 3 alert, but the volcano sprang back into life on Saturday, hurling ash and smoke 2,000 meters into the atmosphere.
Gede Suantika, head of the Bromo emergency response team at the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG), said that even though the alert status remained unchanged, residents in the area should take precautions.
He said the 2,329-meter-high volcano on Wedenesday was still belching thick clouds of ash 1,000 meters into the atmosphere, which were being blown to the north and northeast.
“The warning remains the same: Don’t go within 2 kilometers of the crater because it’s very dangerous right now,” he said.
Suantika said there was also a marked increase in the frequency of volcanic earthquakes in the area, and it was unknown how long this heightened volcanic activity would last.
“It’s quite unusual that the volcano is showing increased activity after weeks of silence, but it seems to be happening right now with most of Indonesia’s active volcanoes,” he said.
Suantika also warned of increased activity at Mount Kerinci in Sumatra’s Jambi province, which is also at level 3 alert.
On Tuesday, Antara news agency reported that Heri Prasetyo, the head of the Kerinci monitoring post, had set an exclusion zone around the peak, a spot popular with hikers.
Heri said it was too risky to climb up to the peak — which at 3,805 meters is the highest point in Indonesia — because volcanic tremors have been increasing in frequency.