Eleven hikers were found dead Monday and another 12 were missing after a volcano erupted in Indonesia, with rescuers racing to carry injured and burned survivors down the mountain on foot.
Rescuers worked through the night to find dozens of hikers stranded on Mount Marapi on the island of Sumatra after it spewed an ash tower 3,000 meters — taller than the volcano itself — into the sky on Sunday.
The dead hikers were found near Marapi’s crater after the 2,891-meter volcano rained ash on nearby villages, according to a local rescue official.
There were 75 hikers in the area at the time of the eruption, but most were safely evacuated.
Twelve were missing, three more were found alive and 49 had safely descended from the crater, some with burns and fractures, the official said. The search for 12 others missing has been suspended due to a small eruption.
Dozens of hikers were trapped and many suffered burns when Mount Marapi erupted.
A clip shared with AFP showed a rescue worker with a flashlight strapped to his head piggybacking a hiker, who moans in pain and says “God is greatest” as she is led to safety in the darkness of night.
Zhafirah Zahrim Febrina, one of the rescued hikers, is shown in a video message from the volcano desperately appealing to her mother for help.
The 19-year-old student appeared shocked, her face burnt and her hair matted with thick grey ash.
“Mom, help Ife. This is Ife’s situation right now,” she said, referring to her nickname.
#WATCH 🔴 🌋Rescuers searching for missing individuals after the eruption of Mount #Marapi on #Sumatra Island in #Indonesia throughout the night have discovered at least 11 hikers dead, with an additional 12 people missing. Eyewitness videos‼️
— Voice of Europe 🌍 (@V_of_Europe) December 4, 2023
She is now in a nearby hospital with her father and uncle after being trapped on the mountain on a hiking trip with 18 school friends.
“She is going through a tremendous trauma,” said her mother Rani Radelani, 39.
“She is affected psychologically because she saw her burns, and she also had to endure the pain all night.”
Local rescue agency spokesperson Jodi Haryawan said the rescue efforts had been broken up by sporadic eruptions, but the search was still going despite the risks.
“Once it was safer, they continued the search. So, the search was not halted,” he told AFP.
Rudy Rinaldi, head of the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency, told AFP some of the rescued hikers had suffered burns.
“Those who are injured were the ones who got closer to the crater,” he said.
At least eight people suffered burns, one had burns and a fracture and another had a head wound, according to a list of those found from Basarnas, a national search and rescue agency, seen by AFP.
— Dr. David Lütke (@DrLuetke) December 4, 2023
Ahmad Rifandi, an official at the Mount Marapi monitoring station, told AFP that ash rain was observed after the eruption and had reached Bukittinggi, the third-largest city in West Sumatra that has a population of more than 100,000.
The plume of smoke and ash blocked out the sun after the eruption and coated nearby cars, scooters and ambulances.
11 hikers have been killed and 12 others are missing after they were caught in a deadly volcanic eruption on Indonesia’s Mount Marapi ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/zAZXfGNXqC
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) December 4, 2023
Marapi is on the second alert level of Indonesia’s four-step system and authorities have imposed a three-kilometer exclusion zone around its crater.
The Indonesian archipelago sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity. The Southeast Asian country has nearly 130 active volcanoes. [VOA]
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