Indonesia's volcano eruption eases, evacuees start to return home

13:17, July 27, 2011      

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By Mulyanda Djohan

Indonesian volcanology agency has lowered the alert status of a volcano in North Sulawesi in the central parts of the country after it has erupted for weeks, and over 5,000 evacuees begin to return to their homes.

Mount Lokon of 1,750 meter high has sowed a decreased seismic activity and it had the volcanologists decrease its status to the second top alert on July 24.

Nevertheless, the authorities have not lifted yet the dangerous zone of 3 kilometers from the crater, which means that the volcano is still dangerous.

Red Cross Secretary Leivi Golioth said that 5,437 internally displaced persons began going back to their home on Monday.

Although the eruption has not directly harmed the residents, four people have died during the evacuation for their serious disease and 39 others suffering from diseases had been rushed to the nearby hospitals, the disaster management and mitigation agency has reported.

Mount Lokon has been erupting since July 11 and unleashed ash by up to over 1,500 meters high since its biggest eruption on July 15, triggering thousands of people to flee homes.

The volcano spewed hot lava and spewed sand and rocks to the slope, according to the volcanologist.

Indonesian Transport Ministry has warned planes to avoid the routes at 10 nautical miles from the volcano, Director General of Air Transport Herry Bhakti has said.

International flight route had been disturbed when Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta of Java Island erupted last year. The volcano ash forced US President Barack Obama canceled his visit to the world's biggest temple of Borobudur in Yogyakarta for fear that volcanic ash could damage the plane engine.

Although the ash from Mount Lokon has not reached the airports at North Sulawesi, the ministry told them to be alert.

As many as 129 active volcanoes lie in Indonesia which sit on a vulnerable quake-hit zone so called the "Pacific Ring of Fire", where two continental plates meet that frequently cause seismic and volcanic movements.

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