Two people were killed and several injured when a volcano at a popular tourist destination in Indonesia's East Java province erupted yesterday, police and a rescue official said.

Mount Bromo erupted at around 3:20 pm, said a policeman on duty in the town of Probolinggo, adding that the two who died were Indonesians from Bali island.

But a search and rescue chief on the mountain, Ahmadi Utomo, said one of the two men killed by falling rocks was a Singaporean.

"I saw his passport and other identification cards which showed that he is Singaporean," Utomo said. The other man who died was Indonesian, he said.

It was the second eruption yesterday in the Indonesian archipelago, which sits on the so-called 'Pacific Rim of Fire' noted for its volcanic and seismic activity. It has more than 100 active volcanoes.

In the northern island of Sangihe hundreds of kilometres northeast of Java, local officials said about 20,000 people had been evacuated from the slopes of 1,320-metre Mount Awu, which has begun showering hot ash on villages.

Dali Ahmad, the vulcanology directorate's information chief, the island's airport had been closed.

"There are already small eruptions and the emission of smoke and volcanic ash," said Samuel Dolompaha, from the monitoring station on the island north of Sulawesi.

"Earthquakes are also happening continuously, although they are still not very strong."
He said the wind-blown ash from Mount Awu has fallen on villages but the evacuation from danger zones was believed almost completed.

Local welfare official Makasenda said villagers have been moved to the island's main town of Tahuna and were sheltering in government buildings, schools and places of worship. She said the evacuation was continuing.

The vulcanology office on Sunday raised the status on Mount Awu to "beware", the highest alert level. Mount Awu, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, has erupted repeatedly since the 17th century. Nearly 3,000 people died when the volcano blew up in 1812.

Mount Awu last erupted in 1992 but caused no casualties. The volcano's last fatal eruption was in 1966 when 40 people were killed. It has erupted on a number of occasions since then.
Smoke and ash rose some three km above the crater of 2,392-metre Mount Bromo.

"The sky is dark and the ash is painful to the eyes," said a policeman in the city of Malang, some 40 km to the west.