Indonesia's Mount Semeru: At least 13 dead after volcano erupts

Asia's Tech News Daily

At least 13 people are dead and thousands are displaced after Mount Semeru, a volcano in Indonesia’s East Java province, erupted on Saturday, authorities said.

Indonesia's Mount Semeru: At least 13 dead after volcano erupts
© BNPB The National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure

Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) said in a statement Sunday the eruption had wounded 98 others, including two pregnant women, after it covered villages with ash and left people to run from billowing clouds of debris.

At least 300 families were evacuated following the eruption, according to Indah Amperawati, deputy head of Lumajang District, an area close to the volcano.

In its statement Sunday, the BNPB said search and rescue efforts were ongoing, but did not specify the number of people who were still reported missing.

Authorities have converted schools, mosques, village halls and village houses into evacuation centers, the statement said.

Java is the largest population center in Indonesia’s massive island archipelago and home to the capital city of Jakarta. Standing at more than 12,000 feet high, Mount Semeru is the tallest mountain on Java.

Lumajang District deputy head Indah said that most of the burn victims have been evacuated to the Penanggal Primarily Health Center alongside a resident who died in the village of Curah Kobokan.

Emergency services have been unable to reach several other villages due to roads being blocked by mud and fallen trees, Indah told the press conference.

The military has been asked for people and equipment to support rescue efforts, Maj. Gen. TNI Suharyanto, the head of the BNPB, told the press conference.

Budi Santosa, head of disaster management of East Java province, said earlier on Saturday that two sub districts had been “badly affected” by the volcano’s eruption.

Volcanic ash and the smell of sulfur was first reported around 3 p.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), according to the Mount Semeru Volcano Observation Post. The station added that hot ash clouds were falling towards an East Java village, Sapitarang, in Pronojiwo District.

Videos shared by government emergency response teams showed residents in the area running away from huge thick clouds of ash. Other footage shared by locals showed people gathering at a local mosque in Besuk Kobokan as smoke blankets the surrounding streets.

Santosa told the news conference that he believed health facilities in the disaster area, either primary health centers or hospitals, would be able to accommodate victims.

His team is trying to conduct evacuations and preparing refugee camps in the area, that would provide food, masks, blankets and shelter for displaced residents.

Indonesia sits between two continental plates on what is known as the Ring of Fire, a band around the basin of the Pacific Ocean that leads to high levels of tectonic and volcanic activity.

Indonesia's Mount Semeru: At least 13 dead after volcano erupts
© Handout/BNPB/AFP Mount Semeru spews ash into the air during an eruption on Saturday.

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