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Indonesia to permanently relocate almost 10,000 residents after volcanic eruptions

The Indonesian government will permanently relocate almost 10,000 residents after a series of explosive eruptions of the Ruang volcano has raised concerns about the dangers of residing on the island in future, a minister said on Friday.

About 9,800 people live on Ruang island, in the province of North Sulawesi, but in recent weeks all residents have been forced to evacuate after the mountain has continued to spew incandescent lava and columns of ash kilometers into the sky.

Authorities this week raised the alert status of the volcano to the highest level, closed the provincial airport in Manado, and also warned of the a possible tsunami if parts of the mountain collapse into the surrounding waters.

Hundreds of “simple but permanent” homes would be built in the Bolaang Mongondow area to facilitate the relocations, said Coordinating Human Development Minister Muhadjir Effendy, after a cabinet meeting to discuss the volcano on Friday.

“As instructed by President Joko Widodo, we will build houses that meet disaster-standards,” he said, adding that the site was located about 200 km (125 miles) from Ruang island.

Mount Ruang began to dramatically erupt last month, with experts saying the eruptions were triggered by increased seismic activity, including deep sea earthquakes.

The mountain erupted again on Tuesday, causing damage to some homes and forcing residents to evacuate from the Tagulandang island, where they had initially sought refuge, to the provincial capital of Manado.

Roads and buildings on Tagulandang were blanketed in a thick layer of volcanic ash, and the roofs of some homes had collapsed, according a Reuters witness.

The volcano had not erupted on Friday but Manado’s Sam Ratulangi Airport remained closed until the evening due to the spread of volcanic ash.

Indonesia straddles the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an area of high seismic activity where multiple tectonic plates meet.

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