JAKARTA, Indonesia - One of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia's Sulawesi Island - Mount Soputan erupted twice in a single day, sparking fears of deadly ash rain in the country's fourth largest island.
On Sunday morning, the 1,784 metres volcano - Mount Soputan erupted twice, sending columns of thick ash as high as 7,500 meters into the sky.
Providing details about the volcanic activity in Minahasa, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman of Indonesia's National Board for Disaster Management said that the agency had decided to keep the Mount Soputan volcano alert level at the second-highest scale after the two eruptions in a matter of hours.
Further, Nugroho said that the agency was anticipating the volcano to spew out hot ash and lava, which could slide down the slope of the volcano and enter the rivers surrounding the mountain.
Authorities in the country warned local residents to avoid activities near the mountain and urged them to wear masks in case the areas around the volcano witness ash rain.
Nugroho added that a two-and-a-half mile exclusion zone had been enforced around the mountain.
Mount Soputan recorded its first ever eruption in 1450, and has erupted 39 times in the last 600 years.
The volcano, which is one of Indonesias more than 120 active volcanoes, erupted twice merely hours before a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Indonesia.
The U.S. Geological Survey said that the earthquake southwest of the town ofJayapura, in the provincePapua - about 1,200 miles away from the volcano.
The sprawling archipelago - Indonesia straddles the geological disaster zone in the Pacific called the Ring of Fire, which has seismically active tectonic plates.
The series of fragile fault lines that form the Ring of Fire stretch 25,000 miles from New Zealand, across the east coast of Asia through Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, over to Alaska, Canada and the U.S. West Coast then down to the southern tip of South America.
Overall, the Ring of Fire contains 452 volcanoes and several tectonic plates in the earths crust and more than half of the worlds active volcanoes above sea level are part of the ring.
Indonesia sits atop this arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin - making it more prone to frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
Mount Soputan most recently erupted in October this year, merely a week after Sulawesi Island was ravaged by a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake.
The deadly quake triggered a tsunami, which ripped apart the coastline of the city of Palu on the island.
The twin disasters left at least 1,754 dead and 2,549 others injured.