15 Jul 2011

Indonesian volcano erupts, displacing thousands

9:23 pm on 15 July 2011

Thousands of residents around Indonesia's Mount Lokon on Sulawesi Island have fled their homes as the volcano erupted, setting forests ablaze around the crater.

The BBC reports that the volcano began erupting on Thursday and the Centre of Vulcanology and Disaster Mitigation has now raised the status of the volcano to its highest alert level.

A 3.5 km evacuation zone has been imposed around the volcano, affecting 28,000 people.

More than 4000 residents have moved so far.

An official says the volcano, in the north of Sulawesi Island, spewed hot lava and sent up volcanic ash to 15-hundred metres.

There are no immediate reports of casualties.

The government will distribute masks and tents to people who have taken refuge in school buildings.