Indonesia Raises Alert Level at Volcano

The Associated Press
Sunday, September 10, 2006; 5:31 PM

SOLOK, Indonesia -- Scientists have raised the alert level at a rumbling volcano on Indonesia's Sumatra island after it showed signs of increased activity, but a major eruption is not imminent, an official said Sunday.

Sensors on the slopes of Mount Talang in west Sumatra picked up increased volcanic activity and a buildup of gases, but the mountain did not send debris or lava down its slopes, said Dalipa Marjusi, an official at a monitoring post.

"There is a possibility of a major eruption, but it is not imminent," he said.

The 9,186-foot mountain was spewing brownish smoke some 820 feet into the air on Sunday, after the alert was raised to the second-highest level a day earlier, but nearby towns and villages were in no danger, Marjusi said.

He said authorities had yet to evacuate 43,000 people living just outside a danger zone but were urging villagers and tourists to stay off the mountain's slopes.

After a minor eruption last year, more than 25,000 people were evacuated because of fears of further volcanic activity.

The mountain, in Solok in West Sumatra province, about 560 miles northwest of Jakarta, is one of at least 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation.

The country is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" _ a series of volcanoes and fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

© 2006 The Associated Press