Hundreds staying put near Mount Ile Lewotolok in eastern Indonesia despite eruption

Screengrab from a video taken during Mount Ile Lewotolok’s eruption on Nov. 29. Screengrab: Twitter
Screengrab from a video taken during Mount Ile Lewotolok’s eruption on Nov. 29. Screengrab: Twitter

Hundreds of local residents living near Mount Ile Lewotolok in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) have yet to evacuate following the volcano’s most recent eruption yesterday, while five children are reportedly missing after they sought refuge in the forest.

Mount Ile, located in NTT’s Lembata regency, erupted yesterday morning and released a column of smoke and ash as high as 4,000 meters, according to Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG). 


Authorities have raised the volcano’s alert status to “standby,” the second-highest level on Indonesia’s four-tier alert system, with warnings of possible lava flows and advising the use of masks among residents.

There were no reports of injuries or damage, though the most recent eruption had triggered a flight warning and the closure of the local airport.

Lembata Deputy Regent Thomas Ola Langoday said today that hundreds of residents living near the volcano are still choosing to stay put, citing their old age as a reason.

“The government has moved to evacuate [residents], but many have chosen to stay put because they are old, keeping watch of traditional items, pets or other reasons,” Thomas said, adding that over 4,000 other residents have left their villages and moved to a safer location.

Meanwhile, five children are reportedly missing since yesterday, with officials suspecting that they may have sought refuge in the forest following the eruption yesterday.

“Out of concern we have started a search but they have yet to be found,” a member of Lembata’s Regional Legislative Council (DPRD), Paulus Toon Langotukan, told reporters today.

Mount Ile Lewotolok has been on Level II or “alert” status since September 2017, following increasing frequency of earthquakes. Mount Ile previously erupted on Nov. 27, belching a 500 meter high column of smoke and ash into the sky then.

Read more news and updates from Bali here.

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