Indonesia’s Volcano Spews Ash, Gas, Killing 1, Dozens Hurt

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The tallest volcano on Indonesia’s most densely populated island of Java spewed thick columns of ash, searing gas and lava from its slopes in a sudden eruption triggered by heavy rain on Saturday. At least one villager died of burns and dozens were hospitalized.

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The eruption of Mount Semeru in East Java province’s Lumajang district filled several villages with falling ashes.

A typhoon and rainy day, which destroyed the 3,676-metre (12,060 ft) lava dome atop Semeru and eventually collapsed, caused an eruption, said Eko Budi Lleno, head of the Geological Survey Center.

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She said flows of searing gas and lava went up to 800 meters (2,624 feet) into a nearby river at least twice on Saturday. The agency said people have been advised to stay 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away from the crater’s mouth.

“Dense pillars of ash have turned many villages into darkness,” said Lumajang district chief Thorikul Haque. Several hundred people were moved to temporary shelters or left for other safer areas, he said, adding that the power outages hindered evacuations.

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Haq said debris and lava mixed with rain formed thick mud, destroying the main bridge connecting Lumajang and the neighboring district of Malang, as well as a smaller bridge.

Llono said that despite the increase in activity since Wednesday, Semeru’s alert status remained at the third highest of four levels since the eruption began last year, and Indonesia’s Volcano Center Geological Hazard Mitigation did not raise it this week. Was.

Deputy district chief Inda Masdar said one person died of severe burns, and 41 others were hospitalized with burns. He said two villagers were reported missing and several sand miners were trapped in different areas along the river bank of the village.

Masdar said that entire houses in the village of Kura Kobokan were damaged by the debris of the volcano.

Television reports showed people screaming and running under a giant ash cloud, their faces soaked in rain mixed with volcanic dust. The last time Semeru erupted in January, there were 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.

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