Local people affected by the eruption of Semeru mount volcano are evacuated at Sumberwuluh village in Lumajang regency, East Java province, Indonesia, December 4, 2021, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Muhammad Sidkin Ali/via REUTERS
December 5, 2021
By Prasto Wardoyo and Willy Kurniawan
SUMBERWULUH, Indonesia (Reuters) -The eruption of Indonesia’s Semeru volcano has killed at least 13 people and injured dozens, the disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said on Sunday, as search teams looked for victims in a landscape covered in deep layers of ash.
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.
BNPB official Abdul Muhari said in a news release that 13 people had been killed. Ninety-eight were injured, including two pregnant women, and 902 have been evacuated, the statement said.
Most injuries were burns, authorities said.
In the Sumberwuluh area, thick, grey ash coated damaged houses, while volunteers tried to turn away motorists who wanted to go back to their homes near Semeru, a Reuters witness said.
In a barren landscape covered in ash, homes were almost completely submerged, and a truck had only the top of the driver’s cab visible. Some villagers fleeing their homes managed to bring livestock with them, but a dead cow was left lying on its side on the ground.
Grey fallen trees lie on roads, the witness said.
Other obstacles include heavy rocks and hot volcanic sediment that is limiting movement, a local disaster mitigation agency official said.
Taufiq Ismail Marzuqi, a Lumajang resident and volunteer, told Reuters that rescue efforts are “very dire” because of the severed bridge and volunteers lacking experience.
In a video he recorded, police and military officials tried to excavate bodies with their bare hands.
BNPB will rebuild the wrecked homes, and heavy equipment, including excavators and bulldozers, is being deployed, its chief said.
Thoriqul Haq, a local official in Lumajang, said earlier that sand miners had been trapped around their work sites.
Ten people trapped after Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupted have been evacuated to safety, BNPB said.
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