Jakarta (ANTARA) - The government has decided to permanently relocate 301 families living near Mount Ruang in North Sulawesi to a new settlement to ensure their safety, Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono said on Friday.

Yudhoyono, who is also serving as head of the National Land Agency (BPN), announced the decision after attending a limited meeting with President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) here the same day.

The 301 families, which have been severely affected by the Mount Ruang eruptions, will be relocated to Modisi village in Pinolosian Timur sub-district, Bolaang Mongondow Selatan district, he told journalists.

The village has been chosen for the relocation since its topography could help the affected families continue to make a living through fishing and coconut farming, he said.

Homes and essential infrastructure facilities would be provided in the new settlement area to the affected families, the minister, who is popularly known as AHY, said.

Meanwhile, President Jokowi asked the BPN authorities to ensure that the families that have agreed to be relocated are registered for land ownership certification.

He said that AHY is also required to ensure the chosen settlement area's clean and clear status.

Jokowi earlier chaired a limited meeting with several cabinet members to discuss the planned relocation of residents affected by Mount Ruang's eruptions.

The volcanic eruptions, which occurred from April 16 to 30, displaced more than 9,000 residents and forced local authorities to evacuate at least 12,000 residents, he said in his opening remarks at the meeting.

The eruptions also disrupted flights and operational services at Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado City, he added.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) reported that the increased volcanic activity on Mount Ruang may have been triggered by the recent tectonic earthquake that jolted Doi Island in North Maluku.

In response to the increase 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 on ferry vessels and boats.

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Translator: Mentari DG, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Anton Santoso
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