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500 evacuated as volcano spews lava

Authorities raise the area's alert status by one rung and evacuate 151 families from the slopes of the Karangetang volcano.

world Updated: Aug 12, 2007 14:30 IST

More than 500 people have been evacuated from the slopes of Mount Karangetang, which has been spewing lava and hot clouds on the northern Indonesian island of Siau, a report said on Sunday.

The conditions have forced authorities to raise the area's alert status by one rung, with a total of 151 families or 564 people being evacuated from three villages on the slopes of the 1,784-metre (5,958-foot) Karangetang volcano.

Lava and hot clouds emerged from the peak of the mountain on Friday; the Indopos newspaper quoted the Sitaro district chief, Idrus Mokodompit as saying.

Officials of the vulcanology office could not be immediately reached by telephone on Sunday but the office's website said that the alert status on Mount Karangetang had been raised to one rung below the top level as of 0730 GMT on Friday.

People living in the immediate danger zone on the higher slopes of Mount Karangetang have been evacuated to safer villages on the island, Mokodompit said.

Hotclouds -- clouds of high temperatures that slide down the slope at high speed burning everything in their path from the volcano killed three when it last erupted in 1997. Five years earlier, hotclouds left seven people dead.

Mount Karangetang's last large eruption in 1974 forced the total evacuation of its population to a nearby island.