Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Authorities have raised the alert status of Mount Soputan in Southeast Minahasa District, North Sulawesi Province, to Level III or Siaga (watch) status after it erupted on Wednesday morning.

"Local residents should not carry out activities within the four-kilometer radius of the volcano`s peak," Head of the Information Data Center and Public Relations of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho noted in a written statement released on Wednesday.

He also urged residents living as far as 6.5 kilometers west and southwest of the volcano`s peak to avoid the possibility of a lava slide or hot cloud.

Residents living around the volcano should also prepare to wear masks to avoid the possibility of developing upper respiratory tract infections in case of a volcanic ash rain, he stated.

"They also need to stay on alert for the threat of lava flow when materials from the volcano`s eruption are carried by river water," he stated.

The 1,784-meter-high volcano erupted on Wednesday at 8:47 a.m. local time.

The volcano spewed a massive column of ash reaching heights of between three to four thousand meters, Asep, head of the Mount Soputan observation post in Silian, stated.

Prior to the eruption, a loud explosion was audible at the observation post. Thick cloud was seen moving in the westerly and northwesterly directions of South Minahasa.

Reporting by Dewanto Samodro
Editing by Suharto

Reporter: Dewanto Samodro
Editor: Bustanuddin
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