More than 15,000 residents have fled a volcano that rumbled to life less than a week ago in Indonesia and local airlines have been warned to avoid flying near the mountain as thick ash continues to spew from its crater, an official said Thursday.
The aviation warning was issued Wednesday for small planes serving short-haul flights in the region as small eruptions continue at Mount Sinabung, said Susanto, general manager for air navigation at Kuala Namu airport in North Sumatra's capital Medan. Like many Indonesians, he uses only one name.
Data from the local emergency task force showed the number of people evacuated has doubled to more than 15,000 after many residents outside the 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) danger area abandoned their houses.
The 2,600-meter (8,530-foot) volcano first erupted Sunday after being dormant for three years. A larger eruption occurred two days later volcanic ash and thick smoke were belched up to 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) into the air that ignited fires on its slopes.
The volcano's last eruption in August 2010 killed two people and forced 30,000 others to flee. It caught many scientists off guard because it had been quiet for four centuries.
Mount Sinabung is among around 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.