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Tourists flee volcano at popular Indonesia hiking spot
by Staff Writers
Sembalun, Indo1nesia (AFP) Sept 28, 2016

Guatemala's 'Volcano of Fire' erupts
Guatemala City (AFP) Sept 27, 2016 - Guatemala's famed "Volcano of Fire" pumped out a series of eruptions Tuesday, spewing lava and sending ashes raining down near the capital, authorities said.

The Volcan de Fuego, an active volcano, is maintaining "moderate to heavy explosions," the National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology said in a statement.

The eruptions have sent an ash column up into the sky, reaching about 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) above sea level. The column is moving more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) westwards and southwest, the institute said.

The rumbling 3,763-meter-high volcano is located 45 kilometers southwest of the capital Guatemala City. The incandescent lava at the top of the crater is feeding two rivers of lava, according to the institute.

The falling ash is affecting a number of communities, especially the town of Yepocapa, near the volcano.

The institute recommended that aviation authorities take precautions with air-traffic control.

In February 2015, a powerful eruption by the volcano forced authorities to temporarily shut the capital's airport because of heavy ash clouds, which also affected the Spanish colonial city of Antigua.

In addition to Fuego, the Central American country has two other active volcanos: Santiaguito in the west and Pacaya in the south, just 30 kilometers from the capital.

Hundreds of tourists have fled a volcanic eruption at a popular Indonesian hiking destination, an official said Wednesday, expressing fears some may have stayed behind to document the natural wonder.

Around 1,000 tourists, including about 600 foreigners, were believed to be in the area when Mount Barujari sent columns of ash and smoke shooting high into the sky over holiday island Lombok Tuesday, according to the official disaster agency.

Barujari is a small cone within the crater of Mount Rinjani, Indonesia's second-highest volcano and a major attraction for foreign tourists visiting the archipelago.

Most visitors were believed to have safely fled the area once authorities alerted them after Barujari sent a two-kilometre (1.2-mile) cloud of hot gas into the air, disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Officials were dispatched to the national park surrounding Rinjani to ask people to leave and help evacuate them if necessary.

Nugroho said officials had so far confirmed about 260 tourists had left the national park.

But the majority of others were also believed to have left the area, although authorities were having difficulty counting them as they had flooded out through unofficial exits, he said.

Officials however had difficulty persuading some tourists to leave a three-kilometre safety zone established around the volcano as they wanted to get pictures of the eruption.

"The local disaster agency said that some tourists did not want to leave," Nugroho said.

"They wanted to record the eruption of Barujari and in some cases hid from officials. They knew it was dangerous but they still wanted to document the eruption."

Muhammad Rum, a local spokesman for the disaster agency, added the eruption was not major and he believed all the hikers had now left the area.

All those who had descended were "in good condition and healthy", he added.

"Many of them even videotaped the eruption while enjoying the beauty of the mountain," he added.

The threat level of the volcano was raised Tuesday as Barujari erupted, but remains two steps below the highest level on a four-point scale.

Some flights to and from the nearby resort island of Bali were cancelled overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, but Lombok's international airport remains unaffected.

Flight disruptions due to drifting ash clouds are not uncommon in Indonesia, which sits on a belt of seismic activity known as the "Ring of Fire" and is home to around 130 active volcanoes.

An eruption at Rinjani last month forced the closure of Lombok airport and disrupted some flights to neighbouring Bali.

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