A volcano eruption in Indonesia, Saturday afternoon, was thought to have killed three people and injured several others. Since then, the death toll has risen.
Mount Sinabung is located in the North Sumatra province and is one of the 120 active volcanoes that can be found in Indonesia. The area is prone to seismic activity which can trigger a volcano eruption. It’s located on the Ring of Fire, which is an arc of volcanoes and fault lines located around the Pacific Basin.
The volcano in question, Mount Sinabung, was dormant for a very long time (four centuries), only showing signs of activity as little as six years ago, in 2010. The volcano stands at 8,530 feet high and has forced upwards of 30,000 people to flee their homes in search of safer grounds.
Saturday afternoon, Mount Sinabung spouted volcanic ash two miles up, which then oozed down the sides of the volcano for as far as three miles away until it reached a river, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.
No one was supposed to be in the danger zone around the active volcano, however.
People living within the “red zone,” as officials call it, were evacuated a couple of years ago, according to the Bangkok Post. Since then, the government has insisted that people remain out of that dangerous area, stating that it’s too risky there for anyone to live or work.
“This area should have been empty because nobody should be inside the red zone,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a National Disaster Management Agency spokesman, said.
Despite warnings from officials, however, many people have been forced to return to their farms in the red zone in order to attempt to make a living. Many of the people injured, or killed, by the volcano eruption were simply working on their farms, but some were forced to move their homes back to the area due to poverty.
Several of those homes were also destroyed in the eruption.
Originally, only seven people were thought to have been exposed to the volcano eruption. It was believed that three of those people were killed instantly, while the other four were critically injured and brought to a nearby hospital.
“Seven people were exposed to the hot clouds, killing three and leaving four others in critical condition,” Nugroho explained, early on.
By Saturday night, however, the death toll had climbed.
Now, it is believed that nine people, in total, were affected by the volcano eruption. Of those affected, three are in critical condition in nearby hospitals while the other six have died.
“Nine people were struck by the hot clouds. Six died, and three others remain critical with burns,” Nugroho corrected his earlier statement about the volcano eruption when interviewed by the Economic Times.
Although officials now believe their statistics are closer to correct, they’re afraid the death toll might yet climb further.
“It is not known exactly how many people were in Gamber village when the hot clouds descended,” Nugroho added. “There shouldn’t have been any public activity (within the red zone).”
Emergency crews are still searching the site of the volcano eruption for victims, although they no longer expect to find more survivors. They are watching closely for any signs of a follow-up eruption that might endanger those aiding in the clean-up and recovery efforts.
Just before Valentine’s Day in 2014, there was a volcano eruption from Mount Sinabung that caused the death of 16 people.
The volcano had been erupting for four months long by the point that casualties were finally tallied.
[Photo by AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara]