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Volcano Erupts On Same Indonesian Island Devastated By Earthquake, Tsunami

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A volcano erupted Wednesday morning on the same central Indonesian island as an earlier earthquake and authorities warned planes about volcanic ash in the air.

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 said it’s possible the eruption was accelerated by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Central Sulawesi on Friday.

“It could be that this earthquake triggered the eruption, but the direct correlation has yet to be seen as there had been an increase in the Mount Soputan activity,” Kasbani, the head of Indonesia’s Vulcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation agency, told online news portal Tempo.

Kasbani, who uses one name, said volcanic activity had been increasing at Soputan since August and began surging Monday.

Nazli Ismail, a geophysicist at University of Syiah Kuala, Banda Aceh on Sumatra island, stressed there was no concrete evidence to show they are linked.

“People talk about the butterfly effect. The concept is that when a butterfly flaps its wings, it can cause a catastrophe,” he said. “So it is possible for the earthquake to trigger the volcano eruption, but it’s not conclusive. This needs to be further investigated.”

Nazri said the Soputan volcano eruption isn’t surprising as Indonesia sits on the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire,” and Soputan is one of the most active volcanoes on the island.

Soputan’s eruption status was raised from an alert to standby 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the summit and up to 6.5 kilometers 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.

Planes were warned of the ash clouds because volcanic ash is hazardous for their engines.

The earthquake in Central Sulawesi set off a tsunami and has devastated several communities.

Indonesia is an archipelago of more than 250 million people and government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.

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