Indonesian authorities have been forced to extend a danger zone around Mount Sinabung in Western Indonesia, following an unrelenting volcanic eruption in the region.
According to the authorities, Mount Sinabung, located on the island of Sumatra, has erupted more than fifty times since Saturday, spewing searing clouds of gas and lava as high as 4 to 5 kilometer.
Tuesday’s overnight booming explosion in Mount Sinabung, however, triggered a panicked evacuation, sending the residents pouring down the sides of the mountain.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the danger zone in southeast of the volcano was extended from five to seven kilometers radius of the crater.
Authorities say the blistering gas has approached residential areas, with soldiers joining the rescue operation in two villages of Jewara and Pintu Besi, about seven kilometers (four miles) from the crater, where house and farmlands have been covered with ashes.
More than 20,000 people have already been living in temporary shelters, since the alert status for Mount Sinabung was raised to its highest level in November.
Indonesia is the home to dozens of active volcanoes and lies on the major tectonic fault lines known as the "Ring of Fire" between the Pacific and Indian oceans.
In 2010, more than 350 people lost their lives, following a series of volcanic eruptions in Mount Merapi in central Java.