Thousands flee Indonesian volcano eruption

Thousands flee Indonesian volcano eruption

One person killed and 41 suffer burn injuries as ash from Semeru blankets area in East Java

An image released by Indonesia's National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) shows the Semeru volcano spewing ash into the air during an eruption seen from Lumajang in East Java on Saturday. (Handout Photo by BNPB via AFP)
An image released by Indonesia's National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) shows the Semeru volcano spewing ash into the air during an eruption seen from Lumajang in East Java on Saturday. (Handout Photo by BNPB via AFP)

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Mount Semeru erupted on Saturday, spewing out a tower of smoke and ash that plunged local communities into darkness and forced thousands of nearby residents to flee.

One person was killed and 41 suffered burn injuries, said Indah Masdar, the deputy chief of Lumajang district in East Java province.

Videos shared by emergency officials showed residents running as towering plumes of smoke and ash blanketed nearby villages in the area about 90 kilometers south of Surabaya.

Rescuers moved to evacuate local residents as lava reached nearby villages and destroyed a bridge in Lumajang.

“A number of areas went dark after being covered by volcanic ash,” national disaster mitigation agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said.

“We are building up some shelters in several locations in Lumajang.”

A video released by the agency showed locals, including scores of children, running for safety as Mount Semeru erupted at 3pm local time on Saturday.

Local authorities established a restricted zone of five kilometres from the crater after the eruption.

Semeru’s alert status has remained at its second-highest level since its previous major eruption in December 2020, which also forced thousands to flee and left villages covered.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity.

The Southeast Asian archipelago nation has nearly 130 active volcanoes.

In late 2018, a volcano in the strait between Java and Sumatra islands erupted, causing an underwater landslide and tsunami which killed more than 400 people.


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