Rescuers dug out the body of 13-year-old boy with their bare hands on Monday after the highest volcano on Indonesia’s Java island erupted with fury, killing at least 15 people with searing gas and ash and leaving 27 others missing.
Mount Semeru in Lumajang district in East Java province spewed thick columns of ash as high as 40,000 feet into the sky in a sudden eruption Saturday triggered by heavy rain.
Villages and nearby towns were blanketed by tons of volcanic debris, as searing gas raced down the sides of the mountain, smothering entire villages and killing or seriously burning those caught in its path.
Rescue efforts had been suspended on Sunday due to harsh weather, but resumed this morning as conditions improved.
The body of the 13-year-old boy was recovered in the worst-hit village of Sumberwuluh, where houses were buried to their rooftops and cars were submerged.
Rescue workers uncover the foot of a victim in an area affected by the eruption of Mount Semeru volcano in Sumberwuluh village, Lumajang, Indonesia, December 6, 2021.
Rescuers dug out the body of the 13-year-old boy with their bare hands on Monday after the highest volcano on Indonesia’s Java island erupted with fury
Rescue workers find a victim in an area affected by the eruption of Mount Semeru volcano in Sumberwuluh village, where houses were buried to their rooftops and cars were submerged in volcanic ash
Mount Semeru releases volcanic materials during an eruption as seen from Lumajang district, East Java province, Indonesia, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. The highest volcano on Java island spewed thick columns of ash into the sky in a sudden eruption Saturday triggered by heavy rains.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said 56 people had been hospitalised, most of them with severe burns.
He said rescuers were still searching for 27 villagers reported missing. Nearly 3,000 houses and 38 schools were damaged, Muhari said.
President Joko Widodo on Sunday ordered a rapid emergency response to find victims and treat the injured after the scale of the disaster became clear, but search and rescue efforts were temporarily suspended Sunday afternoon because of fears that heavy rain would cause more hot ash and debris to fall from the crater.
Crumpled roofs, charred carcasses of cattle and broken chairs covered in grey ash and soot dotted the smouldering landscape.
Indonesia’s Mount Semeru spewed more ash on Monday, hampering the search for survivors as aerial images showed the extent of the devastation unleashed by the volcano’s deadly weekend eruption.
A man inspects a truck buried in the ash. The eruption has sent thousands fleeing and forcing hundreds of families into makeshift shelters
Ash covers houses and trees on the slopes of Mount Semeru. At least 11 villages of Lumajang district in East Java were coated in volcanic ash which covered houses and vehicles and smothered livestock
Indonesia: eruption of Mount Seberu – the volcano is located in the Lumajang district in East Java province
The eruption of the 12,060-foot-high mountain eased pressure that had been building under a lava dome in the crater.
But experts warned that the dome could further collapse, causing an avalanche of blistering gas and debris trapped beneath it.
More than 1,700 villagers escaped to makeshift emergency shelters after Saturday’s powerful eruption, but many others defied official warnings and chose to remain in their homes to tend their livestock and protect their property.
Semeru, also known as Mahameru, has erupted many times in the last 200 years.
Still, as on many of the 129 volcanoes monitored in Indonesia, tens of thousands of people live on its fertile slopes. It last erupted in January, with no casualties.
Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 270 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it sits along the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire,’ a horseshoe-shaped series of fault lines.