A third Indonesian volcano has erupted after the deadly earthquake and subsequent tsunami leveled the provincial city of Palu.
Geologists say there isn’t enough evidence to support the theory that earthquakes can trigger volcanic eruptions. Tell that to Indonesia, which has just seen its third eruption in the week following the massive 7.5-magnitude earthquake that rocked the island nation.
Gamalama, the volcano that forms the entirety of Ternate Island in Indonesia, erupted on Thursday, October 4th. Ash was spewed high into the sky and smoke could be seen from miles around. No evacuation of Ternate City was ordered, but citizens could be seen wearing face masks in response to the smoke.
This is the third time such a volcanic eruption hits the tsunami-struck nation in as little as a week. Mount Soputan in North Sulawesi and the Son of Krakatoa volcano in Java both erupted on October 3rd, with the Mount Soputan eruption sending ash 20,000 feet into the sky. Officials ordered a 2.5-mile exclusion zone around the eruption and ordered all citizens to wear gas masks to avoid breathing in toxic fumes.
Geologists are still debating on whether or not the 7.5-magnitude quake triggered the eruptions. It most certainly caused a massive tsunami that struck the coastal city of Palu, causing widespread devastation and landslides. So far, the official death toll is nearing 2,000, but officials warn that number is likely to climb as they attempt to account for the thousands of missing residents.
Up to 20 countries are offering aid to Indonesia, with most of the foreign aid being distributed in Palu. Rescue workers are now forging to the more remote areas struck by the tsunami, which includes 1.4 million people.
Talks are underway between government officials and local village leaders discussing the possibility of turning some up-ended villages into mass grave sites. Two villages, Petobo and Balaroa, must be entirely relocated as the ground on which they once stood is at high risk of liquefaction, making the possibility of further landslides or even sinkholes much greater. Officials state that the search for survivors will end on Thursday, October 11th.