Mount Kelud has erupted, killing three residents on Java Island, Indonesia. Authorities said the volcano spewed ash and molten rock nearly 12 miles into the sky. More than 100,000 residents were forced to evacuate, as the volcano remains unstable.
The eruption was specifically frightening, as it happened in the middle of the night. Farmer Ratno Pramono describes the scene:
“The eruption sounded like thousands of bombs exploding… I thought doomsday was upon us. Women and children were screaming and crying.”
Indonesia’s Disaster agency provided temporary shelters for the evacuees. However, many residents, including Pramano, have returned to their homes to assess the damage. Although the blast was heard up to 125 miles away, the villages closest to the volcano sustained the most damage.
Authorities noted that numerous structures collapsed under piles of ash and debris, which reached nearly 8 inches deep. Three people, between the ages of 60 and 70, were killed in the village of Pandansari. Authorities said all three were killed inside collapsed buildings.
The eruption of Mount Kelud also forced the closure of six regional airports. As reported by CBS News, flying in or out of the region is dangerous, as the debris reduces visibility and may clog aircraft engines.
Although a second eruption is not expected, officials said the volcano is not at rest. Residents have reported numerous tremors, which have continued throughout the day.
Scientists have been closely monitoring the volcano, as it recently displayed signs of increased activity. Less than two hours before the eruption officials raised the alert level to the highest tier.
While the initial eruption appears to be over, residents will spend weeks clearing out the ash and debris. Resident Insaf Wibowo noted that “the smell of sulfur and ash hung so thickly in the air that breathing was painful.” The decreased air quality has forced many residents to wear facial masks.
Although the villages are a mess, the ash and debris will not go to waste. The ash and rock are being collected for use in construction and the fertilization of crops. Some companies have provided collection bags and offered to pay residents up to $60 per truck load.
Mount Kelud is recorded as 5,678 feet tall. A crater lake at the summit has been the center of more than 30 eruptions since 1000 AD. The violent eruptions have killed More than 6,000 people in the last 100 years.
Although Mount Kelud experienced a small eruption in 2007, the volcano has been largely quiet until last month.
[Image via Shutterstock]