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North Sumatra Volcano erupts affecting Adventist churches

Since September 2013, Mount Sinabang in north Sumatra has sporadically erupted, causing damage to homes and livelihood and prompting villagers to temporarily move to safer areas. However, the eruptions intensified this month with over 200 eruptions in a week in early January and eruptions in the last week spewing hot rocks and ash up to 5,000 meters in the air. Hot lava has continuously streamed from the volcano since mid-month, filling valleys and flowing into a river. News sources report an estimated 31 deaths and the destruction of indeterminate hectares of farm land in this well-known agricultural area.
 
 
Over 20,000 people have been evacuated as clouds of volcanic ash fill the air, creating health risks for the villagers and poisoning their livestock. Thousands of Seventh-day Adventists are among the evacuees, some of whom face the possibility of living in evacuation centers for an extended time due to the conditions and loss of homes.
 
In a Facebook post, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono credits the safety of the residents to the provided shelters in the vicinity. While a five-kilometer radius around the crater remains deserted, shelters can be found within a 10 and 15 kilometer radius.  Pastor D. Nainggolan, president of the Adventist church and mission in north Sumatra (North Sumatra Mission), said that Adventist schools in Sumbul Kaban Jahe are serving as evacuation centers, accommodating an estimated 700 refugees. The immediate necessities of the people are food, medicine, blankets, clothing, clean water and home renovation.
 
Of the 37 Adventist churches around Mount Sinabung, three were affected: Mardingding, Berastepu and Kuta Rakya. With continuing eruptions, damage assessment is not an option so it’s difficult to determine the extent of the damage to churches and homes, according to a young Adventist pastor, Trisawaty Sinuhaji.
 
In response to the disaster, Adventist churches in west Indonesia collected offerings on January 25 to help the survivors of the volcanic eruption and the flooding in Jakarta and Manado.
[Samuel Simorangkir/Gay Deles/Teresa Costello]
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