Indonesia Semeru volcanic eruption kills 14; dozens injured
(CNN) At least 14 people are dead and hundreds are displaced after Mount Semeru, a volcano in Indonesia’s East Java province, erupted on Saturday, authorities said.
Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) said in a statement Sunday the eruption had wounded 56 others, with 35 people in serious condition, after it covered villages with ash and left people to run from billowing clouds of debris.
Five of the victims have yet to be identified and nine people are still missing, the BNPB said. Some 1,300 people have been displaced by the eruption and reached evacuation centers, it added.
Hundreds of houses have been totally destroyed and 33 schools have been damaged by the eruption, according to the BNPB.
Officials say the situation at Mount Semeru remains dangerous due to the risk of pyroclastic flows — a mix of ash, rock and volcanic gases that can be much more dangerous than lava.
“We recommend everyone to increase their alert because the potential of pyroclastic flows threat is still high. It can happen anytime without any warning,” Chief of the Mount Semeru Observation Post, Liswanto, told CNN Sunday.
Liswanto said on Sunday his team recorded two pyroclastic flow events. The first was at 5 a.m. local and second one was at 10 a.m. local time. The deadly volcanic material was rolling down to Curah Kobokan village, which was evacuated on Saturday.
They have urged people living up to 6 miles away from the volcano to evacuate as pyroclastic flows “is very hot, the temperature can reach more than 1000 Celsius,” Liswanto said.
Since there is no sign or method to predict when the pyroclastic flow will occur, the phenomenon can be very dangerous, Liswanto said.
One rescue volunteer in Indonesia’s Lumajang district told CNN Sunday that he and his team evacuated the bodies of six miners from a river in Curah Kobokan village, where they were mining sand in the river bank.
Some of the miners were still inside their trucks, while others were discovered laying on the ground near the trucks, said 32-year-old volunteer Muhammad Firman Adiguna Effasa. It is unclear if those six deaths are part of the 14 deaths that authorities announced.
He added he was worried that more miners or other victims could be still out there but won’t survive because the lava flood was so intense.
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.