Indonesia Semeru volcanic eruption kills 13; 10 trapped miners evacuated


Indonesian rescuers and villagers evacuate a victim on a car in an area affected by the eruption of Mount Semeru in Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. The highest volcano on Indonesia’s most densely populated island of Java spewed thick columns of ash, searing gas and lava down its slopes in a sudden eruption triggered by heavy rains on Saturday. - AP

JAKARTA, Dec 5 (Reuters): Ten people trapped after Indonesia's Semeru volcano erupted have been evacuated to safety, the country's disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, as the death toll from the disaster climbed to at least 13 and with dozens injured.

Semeru, the tallest mountain on Java island, threw up towers of ash and hot clouds on Saturday that blanketed nearby villages in East Java province and sent people fleeing in panic.

The eruption severed a strategic bridge connecting two areas in the nearby district of Lumajang with the city of Malang and wrecked buildings, authorities said.

The death toll of 13 from the eruption of Indonesia's Mount Semeru was confirmed by the national disaster mitigation agency spokesman told AFP, as rescuers dashed to free people trapped in the debris.

"The death toll is now 13 people. Rescuers found more bodies," Abdul Muhari told AFP by phone, adding that as many as 10 trapped people had been rescued alive.

BNPB official Abdul Muhari also said in the news release that out of the 13 people that have been killed after the eruption an two of whom have been identified. Ninety-eight have been injured, including two pregnant women, and 902 have been evacuated, the statement said.

A man inspects the damage at his home in an area affected by the eruption of Mount Semeru in Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. The highest volcano on Indonesia’s most densely populated island of Java spewed thick columns of ash, searing gas and lava down its slopes in a sudden eruption triggered by heavy rains on Saturday. - APA man inspects the damage at his home in an area affected by the eruption of Mount Semeru in Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. The highest volcano on Indonesia’s most densely populated island of Java spewed thick columns of ash, searing gas and lava down its slopes in a sudden eruption triggered by heavy rains on Saturday. - AP

Thoriqul Haq, a local official in Lumajang, said earlier that sand miners had been trapped around their work sites.

BNPB said at least 35 people had been hospitalised, while Lumajang's deputy head said 41 people suffered burns.

Videos shared by emergency officials showed residents running as towering plumes of smoke and ash blanketed nearby villages in East Java province.

The deputy chief of Lumajang district, Indah Masdar has appealed for helicopters to rescue people trapped inside buildings.

“We’re in big distress,” she said, adding there were at least 10 people trapped. “It’s harrowing, their families are all crying.”

Semeru, more than 3,600 metres (12,000 feet) high, is one of Indonesia's nearly 130 active volcanoes. It erupted in January, causing no casualties.

Indonesia straddles the "Pacific Ring of Fire", a highly seismically active zone, where different plates on the earth’s crust meet and create a large number of earthquakes and volcanoes.

Separately, an earthquake of magnitude 6 struck north of Halmahera on Sunday, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said. Halmahera is about 2,000 km (1,200 miles) northeast of Semeru. - Reuters

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