Indonesian volcano spews new burst of ash

An Indonesian volcano sent a new, powerful burst of hot ash and debris two miles (thousands of meters) into the air early Friday, sending villagers fleeing back to emergency shelters.

The tremor could be felt five miles (8 kilometers) away, said Surono, who heads the nation’s volcano alert center.

Mount Sinabung erupted for the first time in 400 years on Sunday and Monday, catching many scientists off guard and forcing at least 30,000 people living along its fertile slopes in North Sumatra province to be evacuated.

Many had already returned to areas within the “safety zone” — well away from the crater’s mouth — despite warnings by vulcanologists that the alert level was still high.

Pasi Ginting, a resident, told MetroTv that Friday’s blast, which occurred around 4:45 a.m., as many people were sleeping, appeared to be the strongest yet.

Indonesia, prone to seismic activity because of its location in the so-called “Ring of Fire,” is home to 129 active volcanoes. It has recorded some of the largest eruptions in history.