A man looks on as Mount Semeru releases volcanic materials during an eruption on Sunday.
© AP
A man looks on as Mount Semeru releases volcanic materials during an eruption on Sunday.
Indonesia's highest volcano on its most densely populated island erupted early on Sunday, spewing a column of ash 1.5km into the air and prompting evacuations of residents from the eruption area.

Lava flowed down Semeru's slopes, traveling toward a nearby river, while several villages were blanketed with falling ash, blocking out the sun, but no casualties have been reported.

Several hundred people were moved to temporary shelters or other safe areas, according to Joko Sambang who heads the disaster management agency in Lumajang, East Java province.

People were advised to stay 5km from the crater's mouth, and avoid the southeastern sector area along the Besuk Kobokan river located about 13km (8 miles) from the crater.



Authorities issued their highest level of warning in response to the eruption, local media reported.

Japan's Meteorology Agency was monitoring for the possibility of a tsunami after the eruption, the country's public broadcaster NHK reported.


Semeru's last major eruption was in December last year and left 51 people dead in villages that were buried in layers of mud. Several hundred others were injured with serious burns, and the eruption forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 villagers. The government moved about 2,970 houses out of the danger zone.

With 142 volcanoes, Indonesia has the largest population in the world living in close range to a volcano, including 8.6 million people living within 10km of one.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report