Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) chaired a limited meeting with several cabinet members here on Friday to discuss a plan to relocate the Mount Ruang eruption-affected residents to a new settlement area in North Sulawesi.

The volcano's eruptions occurred from April 16 to April 30, displacing more than nine thousand residents and forcing local authorities to evacuate some 12 thousand residents, Jokowi noted in his opening remarks at the meeting.

The eruptions had also disrupted flights and operational services at the Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado City, according to the president, whose popular nickname is Jokowi.

President Jokowi emphasized the need to immediately carry out the relocation of survivors severely impacted by the eruption.

To this end, matters related to spatial planning as well as availability of land, houses, and jobs for the affected residents in new settlement areas should be resolved immediately, he remarked.

He also highlighted the importance of identifying damaged buildings and infrastructure facilities, including schools, hospitals, and bridges.

The meeting was attended by several ministers, including Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister and Head of the National Land Agency (BPN) Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono.

North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey had remarked earlier that the eruption-affected residents of Siau Tagulandang Biaro Islands (Sitaro) District would be relocated to a new settlement area.

Deputy Governor Steven Kandouw shed light on the relocation plan during his recent meeting with those who bore the maximum brunt of the eruption.

Governor Dondokambey confirmed that most of the affected residents had requested to be relocated.

The provincial government has vowed to find an appropriate settlement area for the eruption survivors, and the Public Works and Housing Ministry would build houses, roads, schools, and other public facilities for them.

Mount Ruang, located about 109 km away from Manado City, erupted on Tuesday (April 16) at around 7:19 p.m. local time.

The eruption affected those living in the villages of Pumpente and Laingpatehi. On safety grounds, some 838 residents were evacuated to Tagulandang Island and temporarily sheltered in Apengsala Village.

Deputy Governor Kandouw and members of the province's Regional Leadership Communication Forum (Forkopimda) had recently visited the displaced residents and observed the disaster area.

Regarding the Mount Ruang eruption, Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported earlier that an increase in volcanic activity might have been triggered by the tectonic earthquake that jolted Doi Island in North Maluku.

Taking note of the rise in volcanic activity, the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG) raised its alert status to Level III at 4 p.m. local time on April 16.

The BNPB reported that the eruption forced residents in the disaster zone to evacuate using ferry vessels and boats.

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Translator: Mentari DG, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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