Jakarta, Indonesia – December 6, 2023
A devastating eruption of Mount Marapi, one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes located in the province of West Sumatra, has resulted in the loss of thirteen climbers’ lives, with ten individuals still missing, according to officials on Tuesday. The incident occurred on Sunday, with the volcano, standing at an imposing 2,891 meters (9,500 feet), spewing volcanic ash and casting ominous plumes of smoke into the sky.
Indonesia, situated on the volatile Pacific Ring of Fire, boasts 127 active volcanoes, more than any other country globally, making it particularly susceptible to such natural disasters. Mount Marapi, known for its high activity level, erupted, triggering a massive response in terms of search and rescue efforts.
Abdul Malik, the head of recovery teams in West Sumatra, reported ongoing search operations on the mountain, where 40 rescuers were actively engaged even during eruptions. While the recovery team has successfully brought down several bodies, there are still ten climbers missing, heightening the urgency of the rescue mission. Notably, three climbers have been found alive, providing a glimmer of hope amid the tragic circumstances.
Evacuation efforts have been underway, with a total of 75 individuals, including climbers, already relocated, and the injured receiving medical attention in local hospitals, as reported on Monday morning local time. Disturbing images from the affected region depict cars, roads, and entire villages blanketed in volcanic ash, emphasizing the destructive impact of the eruption.
Authorities have raised the alert level to the second-highest, implementing a ban on all activities within a 2-mile radius of Marapi’s crater. Ada Setiawan, an official with Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB), highlighted safety measures, with the distribution of masks to residents and advisories to stay indoors. Climbing routes and trails have been closed in response to the heightened alert.
Mount Marapi has a history of deadly eruptions, with the most severe occurring in April 1979, claiming the lives of 60 people, according to Reuters. As the nation grapples with the aftermath of this recent tragedy, attention is drawn to the risks posed by Indonesia’s numerous active volcanoes, emphasizing the need for continued monitoring and preparedness.