Indonesia has raised flight warnings around the Mount Sinabung volcano on Sumatra island to their highest level after it sent a towering plume of ash more than seven kilometres into the air on Monday, its biggest eruption this year.
Areas around the crater of the volcano, located about 1900km northwest of the capital Jakarta, have been off-limits for several years because of frequent volcanic activity.
Indonesia also upgraded its Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation to red, its highest warning, and said the ash-cloud top had reached 23,872 feet (7,276 metres), according to a ground observer.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Disaster Agency, said the eruption began on Monday morning, accompanied by multiple earthquakes and showering surrounding villages with small rocks.
“In five districts it became dark with a visibility of about 5 metres,” he said in a statement.