Mount Ijen is seen the day after the crater was closed to visitors and many residents living on its slopes were forced to flee to avoid toxic gas near Bondowoso, East Java, Indonesia

Mount Ijen is seen the day after the crater was closed to visitors and many residents living on its slopes were forced to flee to avoid toxic gas near Bondowoso, East Java, Indonesia
Some 200 people have been evacuated with 30 needing hospital treatment after an Indonesian volcano belched thick clouds of sulphuric gas on Wednesday.

Residents were treated for vomiting and breathing difficulties after Mount Ijen in East Java province began spewing out noxious gas.

A popular tourist and mining site on the slopes of the mountain had to be closed until further notice.

'Because of this incident, the public - tourists or miners - are not allowed near the crater until further notice,' said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the national disaster mitigation agency.

There was no increase in seismic activity, Nugroho said.

Mount Ijen is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, a vast archipelagic country made up of more than 17,500 islands.

The crater is a popular site for tourists and miners, who dig up hardening yellow sulphur to sell for use in everything from cosmetics to matchsticks.

The volcano regularly puffs out small amounts of noxious gases but the site stays open to the public.

Around five million of Indonesia's 250 million people live and work near volcanoes, according to authorities, largely because of the fertile farming soil.

Source: Reuters