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Hundreds evacuated as Indonesian volcano erupts

world Updated: Mar 21, 2011 16:55 IST

Indonesia said it had evacuated hundreds of people living near Mount Karangetang off northern Sulawesi island as authorities issued a red alert on Saturday following its eruption.

Nearly 600 people live in three villages four kilometres (2.4 miles) from the volcano's western peak, from which lava continues to spew as it disgorges heat clouds, government volcanologist Kristianto told AFP.

"The process to evacuate 582 villagers has completed. All are now at safety shelters and nobody was injured," he said from the volcano's monitoring post.

"The volcano is still in the phase of eruption. We detected lava flow which reached as far as 1,800 metres (5,905 feet)," he added.

The 1,784-metre Karangetan, which forms the northern part of the remote Siau Island in North Sulawesi, killed four people during an eruption in August 2010.

The Indonesian archipelago has dozens of active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the "Ring of Fire" between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The country's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, has killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions which started in late October.