On Sunday (5), rescue teams redoubled their efforts to find survivors of the eruption of the Semeru volcano, in Indonesia, which caused at least 13 deaths and dozens of injuries.
The volcano located on the eastern island of Java projected a large ash cloud on Saturday after 3:00 pm (3:00 am GMT), causing panic among residents of neighboring villages and covering the region around the crater with a thick layer of ash .
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“The death toll is now 13. Rescuers have found more bodies,” after a first casualty was found on Saturday, rescue agency spokesman Abdul Muhari told AFP.
About a dozen people who were trapped in a mine as a result of the eruption were rescued, he said.
The eruption left at least 57 injured, including 41 burned, the agency said.
Projections of ash from the volcano surprised locals on Saturday. Videos circulating on the internet showed people fleeing the growing gray cloud.
– Signs of missing life –
At least 11 villages in Lumajang district were covered in a thick layer of ash, which almost completely buried some houses and vehicles, and killed livestock.
About 900 people had to go to shelters and mosques to stay overnight.
Evacuation operations were temporarily suspended this Sunday morning due to clouds of ash, reported the Metro TV channel, highlighting the difficulties faced by rescuers.
Heavy rains can also cause waves of hot mud, carrying ash and debris, warned Indonesian volcanologist Surono.
At least seven people are still missing, two of whom may be alive, Lumajang police spokesman Adi Hendro told AFP.
“There are signs of life, such as lights, that could be coming from their cell phones,” he explained.
“But we can’t get to them because the ground is still too hot. We also need to ensure the safety of our teams.”
– Desolation scenario –
The eruption destroyed at least one bridge in Lumajang, making it difficult for rescuers to work.
In a video shared by the rescue service, it’s possible to see a scene of desolation, with roofs and palm trees emerging from the ash and rubble covering the ground, in a landscape that has turned dark gray.
Authorities urged residents not to go closer than 5 km to the crater because the ash-saturated air in the area is dangerous for vulnerable people.
Food aid, masks and burial bags were brought to the scene by emergency services.
Mount Semeru, the highest peak in Java, reaches 3,676 meters.
Its last major eruption was in December 2020. It also caused thousands of people to flee and covered entire villages. Since this episode, authorities have kept the volcano’s alert level at its second highest level.
Indonesia lies in the Pacific ‘Circle of Fire’, where the meeting of the continental plates causes high seismic activity.
This Southeast Asian archipelago has nearly 130 active volcanoes in its territory.
In late 2018, a volcano eruption between the islands of Java and Sumatra caused an underwater earthquake and tsunami, killing nearly 400 people.
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