Villagers flee eruptions of volcano on Flores Island
A major eruption that shook Mount Egon volcano in eastern Indonesia has sent dozens of villagers scurrying for shelter, officials said Tuesday. The eruption on Monday, one in a series of blasts on the 1,703-meter (5,587-foot) volcano on Flores island since July, created a cloud of ash and smoke that spread downwind over an area 70 kilometers (45 miles) long, said Syamsul Rizal, a government volcanologist observing Mount Egon. There were no casualties in the latest eruption because about 2,200 villagers living on its slopes had been evacuated to the town of Maumere when the volcano became active in July. A few dozen men had returned to tend the land, but fled after Monday's blast. Rizal said officials and seismologists are continuing to observe the mountain's activity, which was expected to continue for an unspecified period. Mount Egon is among 129 volcanoes in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation. Indonesia is prone the seismic upheaval because of its location on a subduction zone where the Australian continental plate is being pushed underneath Southeast Asia, creating an arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches.