March 22, 2018 / 7:49 AM / 5 months ago

Toxic gases from Indonesian volcano send 30 to hospital

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian volcano belched thick clouds of sulphuric gas on Wednesday, sending 30 people to hospital and prompting the closure of the popular tourist and mining site.

Nearly 200 people living on the slopes of Mount Ijen in East Java province were forced to evacuate.

“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.

He added that many residents had experienced vomiting and difficulty in breathing.

There was no increase in seismic activity, Nugroho said.

The crater is a popular site for tourists and miners, who dig up hardening yellow sulfur 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.

(This story has been refiled to correct typo in headline)

A view of Mount Ijen, an active volcano and popular tourist destination for its sulphur mining, 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 March 22, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Seno/via REUTERS

Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Nick Macfie

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