KUWAIT CITY, Dec 4: In the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Merapi in West Sumatra, Indonesian rescuers discovered the lifeless bodies of 11 climbers while three survivors were located on the volcano. Conflicting reports suggest that at least 12 or possibly 22 climbers remain missing. The rescue operations faced challenges from sporadic eruptions, but officials emphasized their commitment to ongoing search efforts despite the associated risks.
Jodi Haryawan, a spokesperson for the local rescue agency, acknowledged the impact of intermittent eruptions on the rescue mission but assured that the search persisted once conditions allowed. On Monday, 49 climbers were successfully evacuated from the affected area, with many receiving treatment for burns sustained during the volcanic activity.
Abdul Malik, the head of the Padang Search and Rescue Agency, disclosed that out of the 26 individuals yet to be evacuated, 14 had been located — three alive and 11 unfortunately deceased. The eruption, characterized by white and gray ash plumes on Sunday, left climbers stranded and injured, with volcanic ash spreading over nearby villages.
Zhafirah Zahrim Febrina, one of the rescued hikers, is currently hospitalized with her father and uncle. She endured a traumatic experience during the volcanic event, witnessing her burns and enduring pain throughout the night. The eruption prompted the closure of two climbing routes, and residents residing on the slopes of Mount Merapi were advised to stay 3 kilometers away from the crater's mouth due to potential lava flows.
Despite the warnings, approximately 75 climbers had ascended the nearly 2,900-meter mountain on Saturday. Over 160 personnel, including police and soldiers, were mobilized for search and rescue operations. Earlier reports indicated that eight rescued individuals were hospitalized for burns, while one suffered a broken limb.
Social media footage depicted the dramatic evacuation of climbers covered in volcanic dust and rain. Rudy Rinaldi, head of the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency, explained that those injured had ventured closer to the crater, experiencing burns due to intense heat. Rescue teams worked tirelessly through the night to ensure the safe descent of mountaineers.
The eruption expelled ash plumes exceeding 3,000 meters into the air, blanketing several villages and obstructing sunlight. Authorities distributed masks and advised residents to wear eyeglasses for protection against volcanic ash. Approximately 1,400 people reside on Mount Merapi's slopes in Rubai and Gobah Cumantiang, with the nearest villages located five to six kilometers from the peak.
Maintaining its alert level as the third-highest of four, Mount Merapi has been under close monitoring following heightened activity detected by sensors in recent weeks. The volcano has remained active since a January eruption that fortunately resulted in no casualties. Positioned within the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” Indonesia faces seismic challenges due to its numerous active volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
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