Volcano erupts on quake-hit Indonesia island

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A volcano has erupted on the Indonesian island hit by an earthquake and tsunami five days ago.

Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi province starting spewing ash 19,685 feet (6,000 metres) into the sky on Wednesday afternoon.

A government volcanologist said he suspects the eruption was triggered by last Friday’s 7.5-magnitude earthquake, which also created a tsunami and has killed 1,407 people – with the number expected to rise.

Authorities warned planes about volcanic ash in the air, a day after the first air evacuations from Central Sulawesi, southwest of the volcano, took place following the nearby earthquake.

Aid planes have also just started to be able to get to Palu, the city most badly hit by the tsunami.

A volcano has erupted on the Indonesian island of Sualwesi.  Volcano erupts on quake-hit Indonesia island skynews sulawesi volcano soputan 4441397
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The volcano spewed ash 6,000m into the air

The volcano’s eruption status was raised from an alert to standby 2.5 miles (4km) from the summit and up to four miles (6.5km) to the west-southwest.

Standby status means people should avoid the area nearest the volcano and have masks available in case of ash fall.

The Indonesian archipelago has dozens of active volcanoes.

A woman walks through a devastated area in Palu, in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi   Volcano erupts on quake-hit Indonesia island skynews indonesia sulawesi 4441393
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A woman walks through a devastated area in Palu, in Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi

Indonesia’s president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo arrived in Palu just hours before Mount Soputan erupted.

It is the first time he has visited the area since the quake hit five days previously, with the government heavily criticised for a lack of disaster planning as residents in and around Palu have struggled to get food, water or medical aid for days.

Many villages have been cut off by landslides caused by the earthquake, with the number of deaths expected to rise even further over the coming days.

Three-day-old baby Gambita was born after the quake-Tsunami struck  Volcano erupts on quake-hit Indonesia island skynews siobhan robbins indonesia 4440919
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Three-day-old baby Gambita was born after the quake-Tsunami struck

Mr Widodo said: “Logistics are in and continue to spread, there are places that we haven’t reached.

“I’ve instructed the governor to recommend the markets to be re-opened, we want to start reviving the economy.”

As aid began trickling in, residents in one neighbourhood clapped, cheered and high-fived the arrival of a supply truck.

Heruwanto, clutching a box of instant noodles, said: “I really haven’t eaten for three days.”

But aid is yet to reach the hardest-hit areas outside Palu as the UN humanitarian office said people urgently require shelter, clean water, food, fuel and emergency medical care.

Indonesia’s military chief said soldiers and other forces have been deployed to Palu to guard any remaining key infrastructure, fuel depots and the airport – which was badly damaged – to stop any looting attempts.

Police in the city had not been arresting looters desperate for food and water until Tuesday when other items such as computers were stolen.

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