Australia on tsunami alert after devastating volcanic eruption rocks Indonesia

Australia is on alert for a tsunami after the Indonesian stratovolcano Mount Ruang, in North Sulawesi province, erupted five times spectacularly in 24 hours.

The eruptions have forced the evacuation of 11,000 people and the closure of Sam Ratulangi International Airport in the provincial capital of Manado.

Fire-like plumes of lava and ash were spewed thousands of feet into the air.

Mount Ruang is a 725-meter-high volcano on the remote island of Ruang, 1,640 kilometers from Bali, Indonesia’s tourist hotspot.

According to the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Management, Mount Ruang first erupted on Tuesday at 9:45 pm local time and then four times on Wednesday.

There were fears that Mount Ruang could cause a tsunami by collapsing into the sea.

Australia has been warned of a tsunami after Indonesia’s Mount Ruang stratovolcano (pictured), in North Sulawesi province, spectacularly erupted five times in 24 hours

The airport is home to airlines that fly to Singapore and cities in South Korea and China.

The North Sulawesi region is now in a state of heightened alert.

“In light of the visually and instrumentally observed escalating volcanic activity, Mount Ruang’s alert level has been raised from level 3 to level 4,” Hendra Gunawan, director of Indonesia’s volcanology bureau, said Wednesday evening.

“The strength of Mount Ruang’s eruption is increasing and has emitted hot clouds of about 1.7 kilometers,” Mr Gunawan told national news agency Antara.

Mr Gunanwan added that the eruptions were caused by recent earthquakes in the area.

About 800 people live on Ruang Island and have been relocated to the neighboring island of Tagulandang, located more than 100 kilometers north of Manado.

No casualties have been reported.

Mount Ruang is known as a stratovolcano, which is steep and conical due to the formation of viscous, sticky lava.

According to volcanologists, they often cause explosive eruptions due to a build-up of gas in the magma.

Indonesia has more than 120 active volcanoes – more than anywhere else in the world. It lies along a 40,000 km arc of seismic fault lines around the Pacific Ocean.

More to follow