Indonesia: Mount Sinabung erupts spewing ash into the sky IBTimes UK

Seven people are known to have died after a newly active volcano in the west of Indonesia erupted. Two more are in intensive care in a nearby hospital.

The victims are believed to have been farmers from the village of Gamber in north Sumatra who were illegally working too close to Mount Sinabung, and were caught by pyroclastic flow in a no-go area that the authorities had previously declared unsafe. A two-mile plume of volcanic ash is still gouging into the sky, making rescue operations difficult.

Mt Sinabung has erupted dozens of times in the past six years. It unexpectedly reactivated in 2010 after it had lain dormant for more four centuries, and 16 people were killed when it erupted again with particular force in 2014. Gamber was permanently evacuated at this juncture.

Earlier, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency spokesman said: "Nine people were struck by hot clouds. Six died, and three others remain critical with burns."

Officials subsequently confirmed that the seventh person died in hospital in the town of Kebanjehe on Sunday.

Nugroho confirmed that emergency workers including soldiers, police and disaster aid agency workers, had joined volunteers and villagers in a search of the red zone, roughly two and a half miles around the volcano. The search has reportedly now been called off.

"No one should have stayed," he is reported to have said in a statement to local media, "but there were some who remained to tend to their farms."

Residents of Gember were among nearly 5,000 people living in four villages in the red zone around the volcano who had been relocated after the eruption in 2014. Although they were granted a stipend by the government, it is believed that they had been returning to tend their now permanently restricted land "for economic reasons".

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Remaining on the Slopes of Mount Sinabung by Albert Ivan Damanik, shows the volcano from the village of Jeraya, North Sumatra Albert Ivan Damanik