Volcano spews ash and rocks on Indonesia's Sulawesi

JAKARTA Tue Aug 14, 2007 3:51pm IST

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - A volcano on the northern tip of Indonesia's Sulawesi island has started spewing ash and rocks, gradually sending lava debris down its slopes, but no evacuation had taken place, an official said on Tuesday. Mount Soputan, 2,175 km northeast of the capital Jakarta, was no threat to the nearest village, located 11 km from its crater, even in the event of an actual eruption, said Saut Simatupang, head of Indonesia's Vulcanology Survey.

"We have not raised its alert status to the maximum because it is unlikely to erupt in a way that would harm the nearest village," Simatupang said by telephone from his office in the city of Bandung.

Another volcano only 175 km north of Mount Soputan has shown increased activity since last week, prompting officials to raise its alert status one notch on Saturday.

Mount Karangetang, on the diver's resort island Siau, is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia aside from Merapi and Krakatau, Simatupang said.

"We are keeping it on our watch list, but things look safe at the moment."

Indonesia has the highest number of active volcanoes in any country, sitting on a belt of intense volcanic and seismic activity known as the "Pacific Ring of Fire".

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