Indonesia has issued a warning to international and domestic flights to avoid air routes near Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra which erupted on November 18 along with Mount Merapi in Central Java.

Mount Sinabung of 2,475 metres erupted on the morning of November 18, unleashing a column of ash about 8,000 metres high, the biggest eruption since the volcano first rumbled back to life in September after being dormant for three years, according to the Geological Disaster Mitigation and Volcanology Centre.

Indonesian Transport Ministry Spokesman Bambang Ervan said the ministry has redirected flights away from a certain path because of Mount Sinabung’s latest eruption.

It also meant that more than 5,000 people who had recently been evacuated from the area around Sinabung last September were unable to return home.

Mount Merapi, the most active volcano in Indonesia, spewed a column of ash and smoke some 2,000 metres high on the same day, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

He said the eruption, which was triggered by small earthquakes, prompted around 600 families to rush to evacuation posts.

Mount Merapi killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions in late 2010 when it destroyed entire villages.

Indonesia has 129 active volcanoes and sits on a volatile zone known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire”.-VNA