The Mount Marapi volcano in Indonesia has claimed the lives of thirteen climbers since it erupted on Sunday. The head of the local rescue service, Abdul Malik, reported that two more bodies were found late on Monday, bringing the total number of deaths to 13. Additionally, 10 hikers are still missing, and 52 have been evacuated.
The rescue mission is facing challenges due to ongoing volcanic activity and bad weather. The volcanic ash has reached the foot of the hill, making the routes steep and slippery for the rescue team. On Monday, eleven bodies were discovered near the crater of Mount Marapi, while several others were found alive and brought down the mountain.
Mount Marapi, also known as the “Mountain of Fire,” is the most active volcano on Sumatra island. Between Sunday and Monday, there were 46 eruptions, with an additional one occurring on Tuesday morning. Indonesia is prone to frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide. The country has nearly 130 active volcanoes.
The Indonesian volcanology agency had been sending monthly letters for over a decade, warning the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and local conservation agency about the need for climbers to keep a safe distance from the volcano’s peak. Despite these warnings, permits to climb were still issued after receiving approval from various local agencies, including the West Sumatra provincial government and national disaster agency, as well as the Padang search and rescue agency.
The conservation agency, which operates under the ministry, stated that it was up to the environment ministry and local authorities to enforce safety recommendations. The volcanology body could only issue safety warnings, leaving the responsibility for enforcement in the hands of other agencies.
The eruption of Mount Marapi on Sunday resulted in an ash tower reaching 3,000 meters into the sky, taller than the volcano itself. This was the deadliest eruption since 1979, when another eruption claimed the lives of 60 people. The ongoing volcanic activity and challenging weather conditions continue to hamper the rescue mission, as efforts are made to locate the remaining missing hikers and ensure the safety of those in the affected area.
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