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Soputan volcano shakes tsunami-hit Sulawesi

PALU, Indonesia (AP) -- A volcano has erupted on the same central Indonesian island as the devastating earthquake and tsunami last week.
Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi province spewed ash 6,000 meters (19,700 feet) into the sky Wednesday morning. No evacuations were immediately ordered.
A government volcanologist suspects the eruption was triggered by the earthquake in Central Sulawesi on Friday.

A man walks on a heavily damaged street due to the earthquake in Balaroa neighbourhood in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.    --Photo AP

The volcanologist, Kasbani, told online news portal Tempo that a direct correlation has yet to be seen, however. Kasbani, who uses one name, also said Soputan had been increasing in activity since August.
Soputan’s eruption status was raised to standby 4 kilometres from the summit and farther to the west-southwest. Standby status means the public should avoid the area nearest the volcano and have masks available in the event of ashfall. Indonesia’s military chief says soldiers and other forces have been deployed to the stricken port city of Palu to guard key infrastructure, fuel depots and the airport and stop any attempts at looting.
Chief Air Marshall Hadi Tjahyanto said Wednesday outside a collapsed hotel in the city that his forces were taking steps to ensure that security will be enforced. He spoke as many of the city and region’s residents scrambled to get food, water and other supplies — with many resorting to taking things from shops and markets.
“Military personnel have been deployed to fuel depots, ATMs, markets and the airport to ensure that economic activities are running. It will give the sense of security to the people so hopefully there will be no more looting,” he said, adding that all supply convoys into the city will be escorted by armed soldiers.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has arrived in a hard-hit city to see damage and recovery from the earthquake and tsunami that struck a central island last week.
Widodo was expected to tour various areas and visit a hospital Wednesday. The government has said hundreds of people were severely injured in Friday’s disasters. And the official toll of 1,234 dead is expected to grow as more bodies are recovered in the damaged areas.
He said foreign aid is starting to reach the area. President Donald Trump called Widodo on Tuesday to offer assistance with both the emergency phase and reconstruction.
Widodo said there’s still a lot of work to be done, but he added that conditions are improving.
“Logistics are in and continue to spread, there are places that we haven’t reached,” he said. “I’ve instructed the governor to recommend the markets to be re-opened, we want to start reviving the economy.”

(Latest Update October 04, 2018)

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