Mount Marapi vocano erupts in Indonesia's West Sumatra province, spewing ash on nearby towns

A giant smoke plume rises from Mount Marapi in Indonesia's West Sumatra province after erupting on Sunday, covering nearby towns in ash. Image provided by BNPB, Indonesia's National Agency for Disaster Management.

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Mount Marapi erupted on Sunday in Indonesia's West Sumatra province, sending a gargantuan plume of ash and smoke almost two miles into the sky that later covered nearby towns.

The volcano erupted at 2:54 p.m. local time, with a roiling column of ash blasting through nearby villages and business districts, including Agam and Tanah Datar, according to a statement posted to the platform X by Indonesia's National Agency for Disaster Management.

The countryside was coated in a snowlike ash, while a hazy exhaust filled the air.

Residents within a three-mile radius of the blast were forced to evacuate.

For people farther out, "we have distributed masks to residents and encourage them to stay inside their houses," said Ade Setiawan, an official in BPBD's local disaster management unit, according to CNN.

The situation was still developing as the mountain continued to rumble.

The volcano is situated along the Pacific's notorious "Ring of Fire," a geological region pockmarked with 127 active volcanoes.

A day earlier, an earthquake with a preliminary 6.9 magnitude struck off the southern coast of the Philippines, triggering a wave of tsunami warnings across the Far East.

Late last year, more than 50 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Mount Semeru erupted in Indonesia.