Ash, sand, pebbles, and smoke rained down on people in the city of Jakarta Friday like the breath of a mighty dragon. Mount Kelud, one of many volcanoes in Indonesia, caused havoc to the entire nation. This mountain stands on the eastern side of the island of Java where most of the people live and had been spitting ash into the air for at least two days. Some people spotted lightning striking the summit of the volcano as it breathed forth smoke and ash.
So far three people have died from the eruption, two from smoke inhalation and a third from a collapsing wall. At the peak of the disaster, 100,000 people had been evacuated, and about 200,000 people had been affected in some way. Seven airports had closed since pilots could not see well in the filth-covered skies, and the only two airports that still functioned were in the capital city, Jakarta. Indonesia’s volcanology organization reported that smaller eruptions could occur, and people were urged to stay outside the 10 kilometer circular range around the mountain. Authorities have summoned the military to help vacate people out of the danger zone to temporary shelters.
The country of Indonesia is not a stranger to volcanic eruptions. Mount Kelud, the mountain creating so much current chaos, erupted in 1990, killing more than 30 people and hurting hundreds. It last erupted in 2007, and it is not reported how many people, if any, died or were injured in that explosion. Indonesia also contains the most active volcanoes out of any other nation, and they frequently cause havoc to the people and land. This archipelago of 13,000 islands has 76 historically active volcanoes and a total of 1,171 known eruptions. It also has suffered the worst from explosions causing deaths, destruction of good land, tsunamis, and mud-slides.
Out of the known eruptions in Indonesia, four-fifths have occurred in this century. Some of the most destructive volcanic explosions in the world have happened in this island-nation. One of them, the largest known eruption, took place in 1815 and involved the volcano, Tambora. This event changed the climate so much that the next year, 1816, Europe did not have a normal summer, and that year is still referred to as the year that Europe did not experience a summer. One of the more famous explosions, which even has a fictional book written about it, transpired in this country in 1883. This eruption created huge tsunamis that killed 30,000 to 40,000 people.
Why is the nation of Indonesia so fiery? It lays on the infamous Ring of Fire, which is a ring of volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean caused by the subduction of tectonic plates, or the process of one crustal plate descending below the edge of another. This part of the Pacific Ocean also happens to be where the earth’s deep trenches and oceanic earthquakes lay. Most of the volcanoes in Indonesia are a part of the Sunda Volcanic Arc, an area of the Ring of Fire that stretches over 3,000 kilometers from northwest Sumatra to the Banda Sea. This arc contains 76 percent of the volcanoes in this area. Because these oceanic tectonic plates continue to submerge and rub against each other, volcanoes in Indonesia and other countries in this part of the world will continue to cause havoc to the land and those who live on it for generations to come.
By Rachel Fike