Politics

Indon volcano kills one injures dozens


At least one person has beenn killed and 41 suffered severe burns after the Semeru volcano in Indonesia’s East Java province erupted, officials said.

The eruption sent residents fleeing as a huge column of smoke blanketed nearby villages in darkness on Saturday, turning day into night.

In addition to one known death and injuries, two people were missing and eight stone miners were trapped following the eruption, Indah Masdar, deputy district chief of Lumajang, said in a televised news conference.

“We hope that those trapped can be rescued soon. Their families are crying and anxious about their fate,” she said.

Rescue efforts were hampered by thick mud and the collapse of a major bridge linking two districts, said Suharyanto, the head of the National Disaster Management Agency

“The mud is so thick that even all-wheel-drive vehicles have difficulty moving,” he said.

Mobile phone footage broadcast by local television showed villagers running and screaming in panic as a huge cloud of ash approached them.

Residents were heard shouting “Allahu akbar!” or God is greatest.

Fiery lava travelled as far as 800m from the crater, according to the disaster agency.

“In response to the eruption, locals are advised not to stay near a river,” agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said, referring to the threat of flooding caused by a destructive volcanic mudflow known as lahar.

The Kompas TV news broadcaster reported that a bridge over a river linking two districts had collapsed and several houses were buried under the weight of volcanic debris, but it was not clear if anyone was hurt.

Muhari said workers from the local civil protection agency had been deployed.

Lumajang district chief Thoriqul Haq said the volcano had been active since late Friday.

“Now it’s dark in villages,” he told Kompas TV.

The nearly 3,700-metre Semeru, the highest mountain on Java island, has erupted several times since December last year, when hundreds fled their homes to safer locations.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area known for seismic upheaval, and has about 128 active volcanoes.



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