‘All of a sudden, the sky turned dark as rains, hot smoke came’

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At least 14 people were killed, dozens injured and hundreds of families homeless after an explosion on Mount Semeru on Saturday.

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Surrounded by an apocalyptic scene of molten ash and mud, residents living in the shadow of Indonesia’s Mount Semeru combed through ruined goods after a volcanic eruption blanketed their homes on Saturday.

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Fathers raised distressed daughters, elderly villagers tied mattresses on their backs, and farmers carried the remaining goats, what they could save, from where their village used to be.

“We didn’t know it was hot soil,” said Bunadi, a resident of Kampung Renteng village.

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“Suddenly, the sky darkened as soon as the rain and hot smoke arrived.”

Rescue workers search for villagers in a volcanic ash-covered area in the village of Sumbar Wuluh in Lumajang Juni Criswanto/AFP]

A disaster mitigation agency official said on Sunday that 14 people were killed and 56 injured in the blast.

The injuries, of which 35 were serious, were fewer than the previous count of 98. The official also said that 1,300 people had been evacuated.

This left many homeless and hundreds in shelters.

At a local mosque, mothers sitting on the floor next to their sleeping children fortunately survived the floods, which turned entire villages to ashes and left dozens seriously injured.

‘Almost saved’

Some returned to their ghost towns after the eruption despite the risk to their health from the filthy air, desperate to pick up the pieces from the acrid sea of ​​mud.

In a house in Lumajang district in East Java, plates, utensils and bowls sat on a table as if dinner was being served, but the food was replaced by volcanic ash.

Some desperately searched for missing friends and relatives.

“10 people were washed away in the mudflow,” said Salim, another resident of Kampung Renteng. “One of them was almost rescued. He was told to run away, but he said, ‘I can’t, who will feed my cows?'”

A man brings his buffaloes to clear ash-covered previous homes after the Semeru Mountain eruption seen in the background, in Lumajang, East Java, Indonesia [AP Photo]

The roofs of houses in the village of Sumbar Wuluh are carved out of layers of thick clay, highlighting the vast amounts that came in the area.

Due to the scorching heat, the cows are either lying dead or their flesh has been torn.

A cigarette hung from the mouth of an evacuation as he was pulled to safety while rescuers dressed in orange uniforms worked against a hellish dark gray background.

A group of residents of Sumbar Wuluh stood together in the ashes, looking out at Semeru’s crater as the smoke continued to rise.

With dark, leafless trees, submerged cars, and closed buildings all around, they and their animals were the only lives where everything else had quieted down.

Indonesia, an archipelago with 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.

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