THEThe balance sheet is growing heavier. The spectacular eruption of the Semeru volcano in Indonesia has left at least thirteen dead, the disaster management agency said on Sunday (December 5th) as rescuers continue to search the area covered with a thick layer of ash. At least 57 people were injured in the eruption, 41 of them with burns.
The volcano located to the east of the island of Java projected a vast plume of ash and gray smoke on Saturday, December 4 after 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. GMT), triggering panic among residents of surrounding villages who fled fled as the region plunged into darkness in the middle of the afternoon. “The death toll is now 13. Rescuers found more bodies, ”agency spokesman Abdul Muhari told Agence France-Presse, adding that 10 people trapped by the eruption on Saturday were taken out of a mine where they were blocked. The eruption took residents of the area by surprise. Videos showed villagers running away in front of the growing ash cloud.
900 people had to go to shelters and mosques to spend the night
At least 11 villages in Lumajang district were covered with a thick layer of ash, which almost completely buried some homes and vehicles, and killed livestock. Some 900 people had to go to shelters and mosques to stay overnight. About ten people were rescued after being blocked by the piles of ash. They are workers in a sand mine, according to the television channel Kompas TV. The eruption destroyed at least one bridge in Lumajang, hampering the work of rescuers.
In a video shared by the rescue service, we can see a scene of desolation, with roofs and palm trees emerging from ashes and debris covering the ground, in a landscape that has turned dark gray. Authorities have asked residents not to approach within 5 km of the crater, as the air saturated with ash dust in the area is dangerous for vulnerable people. Food aid, masks and body bags were sent to the area by the emergency services.
Mount Semeru, the highest peak in Java, rises to 3,676 meters. Its last major eruption was in December 2020. It had also caused the flight of thousands of people and covered entire villages. The authorities had maintained since this episode the alert level of the volcano at the second highest. Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where the meeting of the continental plates causes high seismic activity. This Southeast Asian archipelago has nearly 130 active volcanoes on its territory. At the end of 2018, the eruption of a volcano between the islands of Java and Sumatra had caused an underwater landslide and a tsunami, killing nearly 400 people.