Indonesia’s Mt. Sinabung blasts tower of smoke and ash into sky

Indonesia’s Mt. Sinabung blasts tower of smoke and ash into sky
Mount Sinabung’s activity had picked up in recent days, including a pair of smaller eruptions at the weekend. (AP)
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Updated 10 August 2020

Indonesia’s Mt. Sinabung blasts tower of smoke and ash into sky

Indonesia’s Mt. Sinabung blasts tower of smoke and ash into sky
  • Volcano on Sumatra island has been rumbling since 2010 and saw a deadly eruption in 2016
  • Indonesia is home to about 130 active volcanoes due to its position on the ‘Ring of Fire’

MEDA, Indonesia: Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung erupted Monday, belching a massive column of ash and smoke 5,000 meters into the air and coating local communities in debris.
The volcano on Sumatra island has been rumbling since 2010 and saw a deadly eruption in 2016.
Activity had picked up in recent days, including a pair of smaller eruptions at the weekend.
There were no reports of injuries or deaths, but authorities warned of possible lava flows.
“People living nearby are advised to be on alert for the potential appearance of lava,” Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center said in a statement.
The crater’s alert status remained at the second-highest level.
No one lives inside a previously announced no-go zone around the volcano, but small communities nearby were coated in a layer of thick ash from Monday’s eruption.
Sinabung roared back to life in 2010 for the first time in 400 years. After another period of inactivity it erupted once more in 2013, and has remained highly active since.
In 2016, seven people died in one of Sinabung’s eruptions, while a 2014 eruption killed 16.
In late 2018, a volcano in the strait between Java and Sumatra islands erupted, causing an underwater landslide that unleashed a tsunami which killed more than 400 people.
Indonesia is home to about 130 active volcanoes due to its position on the “Ring of Fire,” a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 23 January 2021

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.