Indonesia's Mount Sinabung erupts, spewing ash into the sky

The volcano was dormant for centuries before roaring back to life in 2010

An Indonesian volcano erupted on Tuesday morning, spewing a spectacular column of ash thousands of metres into a powder-blue sky.

Volcanologists recorded 13 separate blasts as Mount Sinabung burst into life, belching debris up to 5 kilometres above North Sumatra.

Authorities said there was no immediate danger to life or property because a 5km ring around the volcano has been unoccupied in recent years.

No evacuations have been ordered and there have been no reports of flight disruption.

But people who live in the area are taking no chances.

"The residents are scared, many are staying indoors to avoid the thick volcanic ash," Roy Bangun, 41, told AFP.

Muhammad Nurul Asrori, a monitoring officer at Sinabung, said Tuesday's plume of smoke and ash was the largest he had seen since 2010.

It could still get bigger, he said.

"The large lava dome at any time could burst, causing a bigger avalanche of hot clouds," he said.

Sinabung, a 2,460-metre volcano, was dormant for centuries before roaring back to life in 2010 when an eruption killed two people.

After another period of inactivity, it erupted again in 2013 and has been highly active since.

In 2014, an eruption killed at least 16 people and seven died in a 2016 blast.

Indonesia – an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and islets – has nearly 130 active volcanoes.

It sits on the "Ring of Fire", a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs.

Mount Merapi on Java island is one of the world's most active volcanoes and also erupted this week, spewing lava down one of its flanks.

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