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Mount Marapi: 13 dead, 10 still missing on Indonesia volcano after eruption

Rescuers have found two more bodies on an Indonesian volcano that erupted over the weekend, bringing the death toll to 13.

Mount Marapi: 13 dead, 10 still missing on Indonesia volcano after eruption
Mount Marapi: 13 dead, 10 still missing on Indonesia volcano after eruption

The search for 10 other hikers on Mount Marapi resumed on Tuesday after being paused due to safety worries.

Marapi was still erupting as hundreds of rescuers scaled slippery terrain in search of the missing.

The volcano spewed a 3km (9,800ft) ash cloud into the air on Sunday, shrouding surrounding villages in ash.

There were 75 hikers in the area during the eruption, most of whom have been evacuated and received treatment for burns.

Rescuers are taking advantage of windows of relative calm to look for the 10 missing, Syahlul Munal told BBC News Indonesia.

“We are racing against time,” he said.

Mount Marapi: 13 dead, 10 still missing on Indonesia volcano after eruption
Mount Marapi: 13 dead, 10 still missing on Indonesia volcano after eruption

Mr Munal, who is part of the rescue team, said the two bodies retrieved on Tuesday were found in separate locations.

Mount Marapi, which means “Mountain of Fire”, is among the most active of Indonesia’s 127 volcanoes and is also popular among hikers. Some trails reopened only last June due to ash eruptions from January to February. Marapi’s deadliest eruption occurred in 1979, when 60 people died.

Ahmad Rifandi, an official at Marapi’s monitoring station, told AFP that he observed five eruptions from midnight until 08:00 local time (01:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

“Marapi is still very much active. We can’t see the height of the column because it’s covered by the cloud,” he told the news agency.

Video footage of Sunday’s eruption showed a huge cloud of volcanic ash spread widely across the sky, and cars and roads covered with ash.

On Monday, rescuers took turns carrying the dead and the injured down the mountain’s arduous terrain and onto waiting ambulances with blaring sirens.

“Some suffered from burns because it was very hot, and they have been taken to the hospital,” West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency head Rudy Rinaldi said.

One of the hikers, Zhafirah Zahrim Febrina, appealed to her mother for help in a video message from the volcano. The 19-year-old student, whose nickname is Ife, appeared shocked, her face burnt and her hair matted with thick grey ash.

“Mom, help Ife. This is Ife’s situation right now,” she said.

She was on a hiking trip in Marapi with 18 school friends and is now in hospital receiving treatment.

Her mother, Rani Radelani, told AFP that her daughter underwent “tremendous trauma”.

“She is affected psychologically because she saw her burns, and she also had to endure the pain all night,” she said.

Marapi is located on Sumatra, the westernmost and third largest of Indonesia’s 18,000 islands. It stands 2,891m (9,485ft) high.

The Indonesian archipelago sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity.

Sumatra’s Marapi volcano – a dangerous climb

By Frank Gardner

Sumatra’s “Gunung Marapi” volcano was deserted when we climbed it as teenage students in the 1980s. Foolishly, a university friend and I declined the offer of a guide from the village at the base of the slope and trekked up alone by a narrow path through the jungle.

The leeches soon found us, crawling into our socks and up our legs. We emerged at around 2,500m to find a world of blackened, twisted trees, scorched by a recent eruption. Clouds of sulphurous gases swirled around the crater and fissures opened up in the rock just metres away, revealing molten rock below.

Only then did we realise just how dangerous this volcano was – but by now it was getting dark, a freezing rain was falling and we couldn’t locate the path back down through the jungle, leaving us thrashing through foliage for hours. We sorely regretted not bringing a guide.

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