photo: US govt. geological survey

A volcano which has lain dormant for 400 years has erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The volcano, called Sinabung, erupted on Saturday and Sunday, sending a giant cloud of ash and smoke into the skies and causing thousands to evacuate their homes.

From an AFP report:

From the crater, it shot smoke and volcanic ash 1,500 metres (5,000 feet) into the sky. Initially we thought the ash and smoke were triggered by rain but now we know the driving pressure was from magma.

– Surono, head of Indonesia’s volcano disaster alert centre

There is currently a 6 km (3.7 mile) danger zone around the volcano, though some of the around 12,000 people who have fled live outside of the danger zone.

The area is covered in thick smoke and smells of sulfur, but conditions are reported to be improving.

From a Reuters report:

The health ministry put medical posts on standby and distributed face masks, though there were no reports of casualties, according to Mudjiarto, head of the health ministry’s crisis centre.

See this video report from Aljazeera English for more:

Thousands flee Indonesia volcano