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Indonesia's Semeru volcano erupts, killing 13 and injuring dozens

Indonesia's Semeru volcano erupts, killing 13 and injuring dozens

This handout picture taken and released on Dec 4, 2021 by Indonesia's National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB) shows Semeru volcano spewing ash into the air during an eruption as seen from Lumajang. (Photo: Handout / BNPB / AFP)

JAKARTA: The death toll from Indonesia's Semeru volcanic eruption on Java island now stands at 13, the spokesperson for the country's disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) told news channel Kompas TV on Sunday (Dec 5).

Abdul Muhari said two of the 13 have been identified. BNPB previously said dozens have been hospitalised, mostly suffering from burns. BNPB said on Saturday that 35 patients were being treated at local medical facilities.

The deputy chief of Lumajang district, Indah Masdar, told a news conference on Saturday that she had asked for helicopters to rescue people trapped inside buildings.

"We're in big distress," she said, adding there were at least 10 people trapped.

"It's harrowing, their families are all crying."

Thoriqul Haq, district head of Lumajang, said a number of sand miners were trapped near mines but did not give further details.

Haq told Reuters that the road and bridge connecting Lumajang and the nearby city of Malang were severed.

"This has been a very pressing, rapid condition since it erupted," he said. Haq added that evacuations were underway, but did not give details.

He later told news channel MetroTV that the severed bridge meant one nearby district had no access to medical help.

Authorities were setting up evacuation tents, the country's disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) said. But evacuations have been hampered by thick smoke, BNPB chief Suharyanto said.

AirNav Indonesia, which controls Indonesian airspace, said in a statement the eruption did not "cause significant impact" on flights.

Semeru, the highest on Java island, is among Indonesia's nearly 130 active volcanoes. 

Its alert status has remained at its second-highest level since its previous major eruption in December 2020, which also forced thousands to flee and left villages covered.

Source: Reuters/ga

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