Home LATEST NEWS Indonesia: activity of the Semeru volcano slows down relief efforts

Indonesia: activity of the Semeru volcano slows down relief efforts

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The highest peak of the island of Java threw a vast plume of ash on Saturday and caused waves of burning mud which invaded villages located on its sides. More than a thousand panicked residents had to be evacuated.

Twenty-seven people are still missing and we are focusing on them in our search, he added.

In aerial photos, entire streets can be seen filled with piles of gray ash and mud, covering trucks or houses up to the roof.

A village is half covered with a gray substance.

Aerial photos of the village of Sumberwuluh show the extent of the mudslide that buried houses.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / Adek Berry

I still hope to find my son. […] Every time I hear that a victim has been found I hope it’s my son, said Maskur Suhri, who was harvesting palm sap when the Semeru erupted.

There is a very small chance that he survived. Maybe it’s his fate, but I still hope to find him, if only his body, continued this inhabitant of the village of Sumberwuluh.

Research made difficult

On Monday morning, a resumption of volcanic activity forced some rescue teams to stop their work.

There was a new eruption and it could endanger the evacuation teams, said a rescuer, Rizal Purnama.

Later, rescuers in orange clothing and hard hats resumed searching the ashes and mud in an attempt to find survivors and bodies, as fumes continued to rise from the ashes.

Their task becomes more difficult as the volcanic debris hardens.

Rescuers dig a gray and dense matter.

Rescuers dig mud and ash to try to find victims of the eruption.

Photo: Getty Images / AFP / Adek Berry

It’s very difficult […] with simple tools. It is very likely that the bodies that are not found will be buried under the waves of hot mud.

A quote from Rizal Purnama, lifeguard

Authorities have asked residents not to approach within five kilometers of the crater, as the air saturated with ash dust in the area is dangerous for vulnerable people.

Ash from the eruption spread four kilometers, according to the Indonesian Geological Agency.

Everyone was panicking

The office of a sand mine was buried, trapping 15 people in and around, says Hasim, a 65-year-old foreman who, like many Indonesians, has only one name.

We have no news. Only one worker was saved, he is in the hospital with burns, he told theAFP.

Some victims were buried alive in their vehicle, without having had time to escape, rescuers said.

Suwarti Ningsi was trapped for five hours in her home with her daughter.

I couldn’t see anything anymore, it was like night. Everyone was panicking, recounted this 42-year-old Indonesian woman: I could only pray […] so that me and my daughter are saved.

A rescuer walks past a house buried in gray mud up to the roof.

The volcano eruption devastated several villages, burying houses in hot mudslides and ash.

Photo: Associated Press / Trisnadi

The rain forecast for the next few days could further complicate the work of rescuers, as it risks forming hot ash and mud flows.

More than 100 Red Cross volunteers come to the aid of evacuated families.

We have sent ambulances, medical teams, water trucks and aid to the area, including food and equipment for the shelters., Sudirman Said, secretary general of the Indonesian Red Cross, said in a statement.

A destructive eruption

The Semeru, which rises to 3676 meters, has known many eruptions in recent decades, but rarely so destructive.

Its last major eruption was in December 2020. It had also caused the flight of thousands of people and covered entire villages. Since this episode, the authorities had maintained the alert level of the volcano at the second highest.

Indonesia is located on the belt of fire of the Pacific, where the meeting of the continental plates causes a high seismic activity. The Southeast Asian archipelago has nearly 130 active volcanoes.

At the end of 2018, the eruption of a volcano between the islands of Java and Sumatra caused an underwater landslide and a tsunami that killed nearly 400 people.

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