Sun. May 29th, 2022

Officials say at least 13 people were killed and 98 injured after Mount Semeru erupted on Saturday.

The death toll following the eruption of Indonesia’s Semeru volcano rose to 13, officials said, while rescuers working through the night rescued 10 people from the rubble.

In a statement on Sunday, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Disaster Relief Agency (BNPB) said two of the 13 people killed by the eruption had been identified.

Spokesman Abdul Muhari said at least 98 people were injured, including two pregnant women, while 902 people were evacuated from the villages around Semeru in East Java province.

Rescue workers were still searching along a river in the village of Curah Kobokan for seven residents and sand miners who were reported missing.

The volcano, located on Indonesia’s most densely populated island of Java, erupted on Saturday and as columns spewed more than 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) into the air, causing burning gas and lava to flow down its slopes.

Several villages in the Lumajang district in the East Java province were covered by ashes.

This handout photo taken and released on December 4, 2021 by Indonesia’s BNPB shows the Semeru volcano spewing ash into the air during an eruption as seen from Lumajang [Handout BNPB via AFP]

The sudden eruption was caused by a thunderstorm and days of heavy rain, according to Eko Budi Lelono, head of the geological survey center.

He said the rain eroded and eventually collapsed the lava dome on top of the 3,676-meter (12,060-foot) Semeru.

Flowing gas and lava flows traveled at least twice up to 800 meters (2,624 feet) to a nearby river on Saturday, he said.

The BNPB advised people to stay 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away from the crater’s mouth.

Thoriqul Haq, an official in the Lumajang district, said “thick columns of ash had turned several villages into darkness” and that a power outage in the area was hampering evacuation efforts.

Haq said the rubble and lava mixed with rainfall formed thick mud that destroyed the main bridge connecting Lumajang and the neighboring district of Malang, as well as a smaller bridge.

The BNPB said it had sent aid to shelters, including food, tarpaulins, face masks and body bags.

People ride a motorcycle on a road covered with volcanic ash after an eruption of the Semeru volcano in the town of Sumberwuluh, East Java province, Indonesia, December 4, 2021 [Antara Foto/Hermawan/via Reuters]

Semeru’s warning status has remained at its second highest level since its previous major eruption in December 2020, which also thousands forced to flee and left villages covered with ashes.

There were no casualties at that time.

Some residents who fled to a government shelter near the Lumajang district’s headquarters on Sunday said authorities had not passed on any information about the volcano’s activities to them.

“Suddenly everything became dark, the bright afternoon turned into night. A rumble and heat forced us to run to the mosque, “said Fatmah, a resident who fled to the shelter of Curah Kobokan, about 5 km (3.1 miles) from the crater. “It was a much stronger eruption than in January.”

Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 270 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it sits along the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire”, a horseshoe-shaped series of fault lines.

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