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Thousands Flee Volcano Eruption in Indonesia

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(CNN) – Indonesia’s Mount Semeru erupted on Sunday, blanketing roads and homes in volcanic ash and prompting evacuations of nearly 2,000 residents in East Java province, according to authorities in the country.A statement Sunday from Indonesia’s disaster management agency (BNPB) said no injuries or deaths have so far been reported and evacuees have taken shelter in public facilities, including village halls and schools.

More than 20,000 face masks have been handed out to mitigate respiratory health risks from volcanic ash, it added.Mount Semeru, which lies around 400 miles (640 kilometers) southeast of the capital Jakarta, began erupting at 2:46 a.m.

local time Sunday (2:46 p.m. ET Saturday), according to BNPB. Videos shared by BNPB showed nearby villages covered in gray ash.RELATED: Pics Show Dueling Eruptions, Lava Flows Threaten Key Hawaiian HighwayIndonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, PVMBG, said in a statement the alert level of volcanic activity had been raised to the highest Level 4.The agency warned residents to stay at least 10.5 miles (17 kilometers) away from Semeru's eruption center, adding that volcanic ash had reached as far as 7.4 miles (12 kilometers) from the epicenter.Japan's Meteorological Agency said the plume from the eruption reached over 49,000 feet (15 kilometers) into the air.

The agency said in a statement Sunday there had been no tsunami impact following the eruption.Indonesia, an archipelago of 270 million people, sits on the “Ring of Fire,” a band around the Pacific Ocean that sets off frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.Standing at 12,060 feet (3,676 meters), Mount Semeru is the tallest volcano on Java – and one of its most active ones.More than 50.

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