Mount Sinabung has erupted in Indonesia after months of rumbling, killing 14 people.
The major eruption occurred on Saturday and it came just a day after local authorities allowed thousands of local villagers to return to their homes and slopes. They had told people that its activity had decreased.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, revealed that a local television journalist and four high-school students as well as their teacher, who were trying the view the eruptions up close, were among those who had died. Officials believe that the death toll will almost certainly rise.
Mount Sinabung has actually been erupting for the last four months. This has resulted in searing gas, large boulders and molten lava rolling down the slopes.
This lead authorities to evacuate over 30,000 people from the surrounding area. However, after villagers pleaded to return home in order to check on their abodes and farms, having been housed in public buildings, schools and tents for weeks, officials allowed them to finally return on Friday.
Around 14,000 people who lived outside the volcano’s three mile danger zone were allowed back, but only because Mount Sinabung appeared to have calmed down. Even though the surrounding area was still incredibly dangerous, some villagers decided to return despite the fact that they lived even closer.
However, tragedy struck on Saturday when numerous huge blasts and eruptions exploded out of Mount Sinabung and dropped lava and pyroclastic flows up to around 4.5 kilometres away. Soon after this ordeal began, television footage showed that villages, farms and tress near the volcano had been covered in thick gray ash. Because of these eruptions, people were, understandably, ordered to return back to the evacuation centers.
Lt. Col. Asep Sukarna, who led the operation to help survivors and instead ended up retrieving numerous corpses, solemnly noted, “The death toll is likely to rise as many people are reported still missing and the darkness hampered our rescue efforts.” The heat from the eruption has blocked further rescue attempts.
Sinabung previously erupted back in 2010, killing two people as well as forcing 30,000 out of their homes and livelihoods. Before then, it hadn’t exploded in 400 years.
Experts have stated that it’s very hard to predict Mount Sinabung’s explosion patterns because it hasn’t been studied as much as the other 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia. The area and slopes near the volcano are very popular amongst villagers because the eruptions make its soil very fertile.