At least 22 people have died and 27 remain missing from the eruption on Saturday of the Semeru volcano on the Indonesian island of Java, according to the balance of victims released Monday by the authorities. 2,004 people have already been evacuated, which are spread over 19 reception centers, said the acting director of the Disaster Data, Information and Communication Center, Abdul Muhari.
The heavy rains and hot air pockets emanating from the volcano, which registered a minor eruption this Monday morning, are making it difficult for search and rescue teams to try to find survivors in the 11 towns settled on the slope of the mountain. The collapse of a bridge that connects the district of Lumajang, ground zero of the tragedy, with the city of Malang is also conditioning the activity. The rain, forecast for the next few days, could form runoffs of ash and hot mud.
The office of a sand mine has been buried and 15 people are trapped inside and around, says Hasim, a 65-year-old foreman, to the agency France Presse. “We have no news [sobre ellos]. Only one worker has been saved. He is hospitalized with burns ”, he adds.
Some of the victims were locked in their vehicles as they tried to escape, members of the rescue teams have said. Suwarti Ningsi was locked up at home for five hours with her daughter. “You couldn’t see anything anymore, it was like night. Everyone was in a panic, ”says the 42-year-old Indonesian. “I could only pray […] so that they would save my daughter and me ”.
The head of the local civil protection agency, Wawan Hadi, had previously confirmed that 68 people were treated with burns after the eruption, which has left large areas of the island covered in a thick layer of smoke and ash. Local media images show houses practically and in aerial footage, roofs can be seen sticking out of a mass of ash on the ground. Meanwhile, on the ground, military, police and residents dig with their hands in the layer of ash to try to find survivors.
More than one hundred Red Cross volunteers are coming to the aid of the evacuated families. “We have sent ambulances, medical equipment, tanker trucks and with help, such as food and goods for the evacuees,” said the secretary general of the Indonesian Red Cross, Sudirman Said, in a statement.
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Semeru is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. Before and after December 4 [fecha de la erupción]It will continue to do so, ”he told Reuters Liswanto, head of the Semeru Volcano Observatory. Many residents fled in a hurry on Saturday, but some have returned home to check on their belongings and livestock, even though authorities have asked locals not to come within three miles of the crater. , due to the potentially harmful level of ash concentration. “People have to be more vigilant because the potential threat is still present,” added Liswanto.
Among the latest victims found are a woman and her daughter whose bodies were found entwined in the rubble of their home, according to the news portal Compass. The 3,700-meter volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the country and the highest mountain on the island of Java, already erupted in December last year, causing a wave of evacuations similar to the one experienced this end of week Indonesia is situated in the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, so it often experiences high seismic activity and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur regularly.