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Mount Semeru volcano spews hot ash and smoke into the sky on the island of Java in Indonesia

Mount Semeru volcano spews hot ash and smoke into the sky on the island of Java in Indonesia
 In this photo released by Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Mount Semeru spews volcanic material during an eruption in Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. The highest volcano on Indonesia's most densely populated island of Java, spewed hot clouds as far away as 4.5 kilometers (nearly 3 miles) on Saturday. 

The highest volcano on Indonesia's most densely populated island has spewed hot ash and smoke an estimated 5.6 km into the sky, prompting a warning from the country's natural disaster agency.

The National Agency for Disaster Mitigation warned people living in villages on the slopes of Mount Semeru on the island of Java to be vigilant for signs of danger on Saturday, but failed to order immediate evacuations.

Raditya Jati, a spokeswoman for the agency, said that people around the river basin on the slopes of the 3,676-meter-high mountain should beware of the high intensity of rain that can trigger lava floods.

Despite concerns, Indonesia's Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center did not raise the alert status of Mount Semeru on Saturday, which is already at the third highest level since it began to erupt in May.

The volcano spewed hot ash at 3,000 meters in early December, causing panic among residents.

More than 500 people living on Mount Merapi, the country's most active volcano, were also asked to evacuate after it began spewing avalanches of hot clouds on Thursday morning of last week.

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 250 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions due to its place on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.

Early on Friday, a strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake shook the country's island of Sulawesi, killing at least 46 people and damaging hundreds of homes in the local area.

Saidar Rahmanjaya, head of the local search and rescue agency, said on Saturday that operations were concentrated in about eight locations in the city of Mamuju, where people were believed to be still trapped.

Cargo planes carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies were sent from the capital Jakarta for distribution to temporary shelters in the area.

However, damaged roads and bridges, power outages and a lack of heavy equipment have hampered rescue efforts so far this weekend.

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