Evacuees take shelter in a classroom in the Indonesian village of Sumberurip on December 4, 2021, after the Semeru volcano erupted. — AFP pic
LUMAJANG, Dec 5 — Disaster officials in Indonesia raised the death toll in the eruption of Mount Semeru to 13 today, as rescuers working through the night freed as many as 10 people from the debris.
The sudden eruption of Java’s biggest mountain caught locals by surprise yesterday, sending thousands fleeing its path of destruction and forcing hundreds of families into makeshift shelters.
It left at least 11 villages of Lumajang district coated in volcanic ash, submerging houses, smothering livestock and leaving some evacuees seeking cover in mosques.
Dramatic footage showed Semeru pumping a mushroom of ash into the sky, looming over screaming residents of a nearby village trying to escape.
“The death toll is now 13 people. Rescuers found more bodies,” national disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) spokesman Abdul Muhari told AFP by phone.
As many as 10 trapped people were rescued from the surrounding areas in Lumajang, East Java province, Muhari said.
At least 57 people were injured in the eruption, of whom 41 suffered burns, the BNPB said in a press release.
The agency has sent aid to shelters, including food, tarpaulins, face masks, and body bags, it said.
Semeru’s alert status has remained at its second-highest level since its previous major eruption in December 2020, which also forced thousands to flee and left villages covered.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity.
The Southeast Asian archipelago nation has nearly 130 active volcanoes.
In late 2018, a volcano in the strait between Java and Sumatra islands erupted, causing an underwater landslide and tsunami which killed more than 400 people. — AFP