Indonesia volcano spews enormous ash tower in series of dramatic eruptions

Halmahera, Indonesia - A volcano in eastern Indonesia erupted three times on Thursday, belching an ash tower over three miles into the sky and spewing lava against a backdrop of lightning, according to the Geological Agency.

Mount Ibu spews thick smoke in Gam Ici, North Maluku, Indonesia.
Mount Ibu spews thick smoke in Gam Ici, North Maluku, Indonesia.  © AZZAM RISQULLAH / AFP

Mount Ibu, located on the island of Halmahera in North Maluku province, erupted Thursday morning shortly after 1:00 AM and then again at 7:46 AM and 8:11 AM, the agency said.

The initial eruption spewed an ash tower more than 16,400 feet above the peak, according to a statement on the agency's website.

The latter eruption lasted around two minutes and caused an ash column that "was observed around 1,000 meters [3,280 feet] above the peak," Geological Agency head Muhammad Wafid said in the statement.

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The agency advised residents and tourists to stay out of an exclusion zone between 2.5 and 4.4 miles from Ibu's crater and to wear eye and mouth coverings when outdoors.

The eruptions were the latest in a series of huge belches that forced authorities to evacuate more than half a dozen villages last month.

The latest eruptions caused no new evacuation orders, and there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage on Halmahera, which hosts around 700,000 people.

Lightning appears amid a storm as Mount Ibu spews volcanic material during an eruption.
Lightning appears amid a storm as Mount Ibu spews volcanic material during an eruption.  © The Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG)/Handout via REUTERS

One of Indonesia's most active volcanos

Ibu is one of Indonesia's most active volcanos, erupting more than 21,000 times last year. It remains at the highest alert level in a four-tiered system.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago nation, experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire."

In April, Mount Ruang in North Sulawesi Province erupted more than half a dozen times, forcing thousands of residents of nearby islands to evacuate.

Cover photo: Collage: Azzam Risqullah / AFP & DEDI / AFP

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