JAKARTA : A volcano in Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province erupted on Sunday, spewing ash and smoke as high as four kilometres into the sky and forcing more than 2,700 residents to seek refuge, the country's disaster mitigation agency said.

Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country, and while many show high levels of activity it can be weeks or even months before an eruption.

Raditya Jati, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement that the eruption from the Mt. Ile Lewotolok volcano, about 2,600 kilometres east of Indonesia's capital of Jakarta, had caused panic among those living nearby.

About 2,780 people from  26 villages had sought refuge, although no casualties have so far been reported, Jati said.

Muhammed IIham, a 17-year-old who witnessed the eruption, said that residents  nearby were. ''panicked and they're still looking for refuge and in need of money right now''.

Indonesia's Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said on its website that the area near the volcano is likely to be inundated with. ''hot clouds, lava stream, lava avalanche and poisonous gas''.

Kasbani, the head of the center, said  that the status of the volcano was raised to the second-highest level on Indonesia's four-tier alert system due to ''increasing threats''. [Reuters]


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