Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Volcanic eruption: victims buried alive under hot ash

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Cole Hanson
Cole Hanson
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The activity of Indonesia’s Semeru volcano on Monday slowed the efforts of rescue services that found 22 bodies, according to the latest report, after the spectacular eruption that devastated several villages this weekend.

The highest peak on the island of Java threw a plume of ash on Saturday and sent waves of smoldering mud that swept through the villages on its sides. More than a thousand panicked residents had to be evacuated.

“According to the data that reached us (…), there are 22 dead,” said Abdel-Mahari, spokesman for the Disaster Management Agency, compared to 14 at the beginning of the day. instructions.

27 people are still missing and we are focusing on them in our search.”

France Press agency

In the aerial photographs, entire streets filled with mounds of ash and gray mud can be seen, covering trucks or homes up to the roof.

“I still hope to find my son (…) every time I hear about finding a victim, I hope it’s my son,” said the magician Maskour, who was collecting palm sap when the cimmero erupted.

France Press agency

“There is very little chance that he survived. It might be his fate, but I still hope to find him, if only his body,” the Sombruulu villager completed.

The resumption of volcanic activity on Monday morning forced some rescue teams to stop their work.

Rescuer Rizal Purnama said, “Another eruption has occurred and may put the evacuation teams at risk.”

Later, rescuers in orange and hard hats resumed searching through the ashes and mud in an effort to find survivors and bodies, as fumes continued to billow from the ashes.

Their task becomes more difficult as the volcanic debris hardens.

“It is very difficult (…) with simple tools,” notes Rizal Purnama. “It is very likely that the bodies that have not been found are buried under the waves of hot mud.”

France Press agency

The authorities have asked residents not to come within five kilometers of the crater, because the air saturated with ash dust in the area is dangerous for vulnerable people.

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

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

“We have no news. Only one worker has been rescued and he is in hospital with burns,” he told AFP.

Rescuers said some of the victims were buried alive in their car without having had time to escape.

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

France Press agency

“I couldn’t see anything anymore, it was like night. Everyone was in a panic,” said this 42-year-old Indonesian woman. “I could only pray (…) to save me and my daughter.”

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Forecasts of rainfall in the next few days may further complicate the work of rescuers, as they risk the formation of flows of ash and hot mud.

More than 100 volunteers from the Red Cross come to help the evacuees.

“We have sent ambulances, medical teams, water trucks and aid to the area, including food and equipment for shelters,” Sudirman Saeed, Secretary-General of the Indonesian Red Cross, said in a statement.

France Press agency

The Semeru River, which rises to 3,676 meters, has seen many eruptions in recent decades, but it is rarely so destructive.

The volcano’s last major eruption was in December 2020. It also caused thousands of people to flee and covered entire villages. Since this incident, the authorities have maintained the alert level for the volcano at the second highest level.

France Press agency

Indonesia is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where the meeting of continental plates causes high seismic activity. The Southeast Asian archipelago contains approximately 130 active volcanoes.

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

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