Dormant Volcano Erupts in Indonesia, Two Die

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Two people have died and thousands have been evacuated in the Indonesian island of Sumatra after a volcano that had been dormant for 400 years erupted.

"The two people died because of heart attack and respiratory complication," an official with the National Disaster Coordination Agency said.

The volcano erupted for a second time early Sunday morning, just a few hours after the government allowed some of the more than 20,000 evacuees to return to their homes.

Smoke, sand and ash began shooting a mile into the air and red hot lava bubbled atop Mount Sinabung's crater around midnight on Saturday, the head of Indonesia's vulcanology center, Surono, told Reuters.

"Despite decreasing activities since the eruption, we haven't downgraded the status level," Surono said of the red-level alert. Officials had been monitoring the rumbling volcano for several days.

"This is the first time since [the year] 1600 that Sinabung erupted and we have little knowledge in terms of its eruptive patterns and general forms," he said.

Click here to see al-Jazeera YouTube report.

Authorities began evacuating around 12,000 residents on Friday to temporary shelters in government buildings, houses of worship and evacuation centers.

The health ministry distributed 7,000 face masks though there have been no casualties so far, the health ministry's crisis center reported.

The government also set up public kitchens so people can prepare meals, National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Priyadi Kardono said.

There has been no disruption to flights in the area so far, the transport ministry reported.

Indonesia's archipelago lies on the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it vulnerable to seismic activities such as earthquakes and volcanos. 

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Reuters and AP contributed to this report.

 

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