11 bodies recovered from volcano eruption in Indonesia, 12 climbers missing

BATANG, Indonesia (AP) — The bodies of 11 climbers were recovered Monday after Mount Marafi erupted, a day after Indonesian rescuers searched for 12 people still missing.

Marabi has been at the third of four alert levels since 2011, which indicates normal volcanic activity and prohibits climbers or villagers within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the summit, said Hendra Gunawan, head of the Center for Volcanology and Geology. Disaster Mitigation.

“This means no climbing to the summit,” Gunavan said, adding that climbers are only allowed below the danger zone, “but sometimes many of them break the rules to fulfill the satisfaction of climbing further.”

About 75 climbers began climbing the nearly 2,900-meter (9,480-foot) mountain on Saturday and became stranded. Eight of those rescued on Sunday were taken to hospital with burns and one suffered a broken limb, said Hari Augustian, an official with the local search and rescue agency in Batang, the provincial capital of West Sumatra.

All the climbers had registered at the two command posts or online through West Sumatra’s conservation agency, Augustian said. Others may have taken illegal roads or locals may have been active in the area, but that could not be confirmed, he said.

Marabi’s eruption on Sunday spewed columns of ash 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) high and hot ash clouds spread for miles (kilometers). Nearby villages and towns were covered by tons of volcanic debris. Videos on social media showed climbers’ faces and hair stained by volcanic dust and rain.

Falling ash covered many villages and blocked sunlight, and officials distributed masks and urged residents to wear goggles to protect them from the volcanic ash. About 1,400 people live on the slopes of Marabi in Rupi and Kopa Kumandiang, 5 to 6 kilometers (3.1 to 3.7 mi) from the peak.

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Gunawan said Sunday’s eruption did not precede a significant increase in volcanic earthquakes. Deep volcano earthquakes were recorded only three times between November 16 and Sunday, while the deformation instrument or tiltmeter at the summit showed a horizontal pattern on the radial axis and slight inflation on the tangential axis.

“This shows that the eruption process is rapid and the center of pressure is very shallow around the peak,” he said.

Marabi has seen continuous eruptions since 2004 with an interval of 2 to 4 years, Gunavan said.

“Marabi eruptions are always sudden and difficult to detect using equipment because the source is close to the surface,” Gunawan said, adding, “This eruption was not caused by the movement of magma.”

Abdul Malik, head of West Sumatra’s search and rescue agency, said rescuers found the bodies of 11 climbers on Monday morning while searching for those still missing and rescuing three more.

“The process of evacuating bodies and survivors is still going on,” he said, adding that rescuers are still missing 12 climbers.

Marabi has been active since the January eruption, which did not cause any casualties. It is one of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”.

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Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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This story has been updated to correct the number of climbers still reported missing.

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