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Volcano erupts for first time in 400 years

Volcano erupts for first time in 400 years
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The last time Mount Sinabung erupted, Shakespeare was writing his plays. Now the volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra has done so twice in 24 hours.

Monday’s eruption was more powerful than the previous day’s, spewing smoke and ash two kilometres into the sky.

Indonesia is on the so-called Pacific Rim of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and geological fault lines triggering frequent earthquakes.

Mount Sinabung last erupted in 1600. More than four centuries on 21,000 people have been moved from their homes in the farming areas around the volcano.

“Up until now there are residents from 22 villages taking shelter in ten different places,” said Nasir Purba, an official in charge of temporary accommodation. He added that more were due to arrive.

No direct victims have been reported, although two people are said to have died from heart attacks.

Experts said much of the movement and panic was unnecessary as people did not understand that the volcano was safe beyond a six-kilometre radius.

But ash has spread further and a smell of sulphur has hit the area. Breathing problems are thought to present the most immediate danger.

Many local flights have been suspended or cancelled.