Sun, 05 Feb 2023

Thousands on Alert in Indonesia's Java After Mt. Semeru Eruption

Voice of America
05 Dec 2022, 18:06 GMT+10

Jakarta, Indonesia - Thousands of residents in Indonesia's East Java were on high alert on Monday after a violent eruption at the island's tallest volcano prompted authorities to impose an 8-kilometer no-go zone and forced evacuations of entire villages.

The provincial search and rescue agency deployed teams to the worst-affected areas near Mount Semeru to assess damage, with low rainfall giving some reprieve, Tholib Vatelehan, a Basarnas spokesperson, told Reuters.

'Yesterday, the rainfall level was high, causing all the material from the top of the mountain to come down. But today, so far, there's no rain, so its relatively safe,' he said.

No casualties have been reported and there has not been any immediate disruption to air travel.

People inspect their ash-covered village following the eruption of Mount Semeru in Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. People inspect their ash-covered village following the eruption of Mount Semeru in Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022.

The 3,676-metre volcano erupted at 2.46pm local time on Sunday (0746GMT). Footage shot by local residents showed Mt. Semeru spewing a giant cloud of grey ash high above its crater, which later engulfed the mountain and surrounding rice paddy fields, roads and bridges, and turned the sky black. A video shared by the Environment Ministry on Twitter showed a pyroclastic flow of lava, rocks and hot gases gushing down the mountainside.

People fled the eruption on motorcycles, with almost 2,500 people forced to evacuate, authorities said.

Indonesia's volcanology and geological hazard mitigation agency on Sunday raised the alert level for Mt. Semeru to the highest level. The agency also issued a warning to residents not to approach within 8 kilometers of the summit, or 500 meters of riversides due to risks of lava flows.

Semeru erupted last year killing more than 50 people and displacing thousands more.

Rescuers and villagers carry a body bag containing the remains of a victim in the eruption of Mount Semeru, in Candi Puro village, Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia, Dec. 7, 2021. Rescuers and villagers carry a body bag containing the remains of a victim in the eruption of Mount Semeru, in Candi Puro village, Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia, Dec. 7, 2021.

Indonesian Families Still Hope to Find Kin Missing in Mount Semeru Eruption

The eruption, some 640 kilometers east of the capital, Jakarta, follows a series of earthquakes in the west of Java, including one last month that killed more than 300 people.

Rescuers search for victims of an earthquake-triggered landslide in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia, Nov. 23, 2022. Rescuers search for victims of an earthquake-triggered landslide in Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia, Nov. 23, 2022.

Search Continues for People Missing After Indonesia's Earthquake

An archipelago of 270 million that sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth.

With 142 volcanoes, Indonesia has the largest population globally living in close range to a volcano, including 8.6 million within 10 kilometers.

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