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June 24, 2024

Eleven Climbers Found Dead, Dozens Still Missing After Eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Marapi

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Dec 4, 2023

At least eleven climbers have been found dead and dozens more are still missing after the sudden eruption of Mount Marapi in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province on December 3rd. Rescue teams are racing against time to locate any survivors among the more than two dozen climbers that were near the volcano’s crater when it erupted without warning, blanketing nearby villages in thick ash.

Eruption Sends Massive Ash Columns Miles Into Sky

The eruption of the 9,443-foot Mount Marapi, located near the towns of Tanahdatar and Bukittinggi, began at around 3 p.m. local time on Saturday. Multiple news outlets reported hearing a thunderous boom coming from the volcano’s crater moments before it started spewing columns of thick ash nearly two miles into the sky.

"It sounded like a bomb went off and then we were hit by a huge ash cloud," said one eyewitness from a nearby village.

Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center (PVMBG) said hot ash and volcanic debris was thrown as high as 9,842 feet into the sky by the strong eruption. The towering plume of ash could be seen from miles away as it blanketed multiple surrounding towns and districts in West Sumatra.

Height of Eruption Column Details
9,842 feet Hot ash and volcanic debris thrown into sky
2 miles Estimated height of ash plume

Experts said changes in the volcanic activity had been detected in recent weeks, but the sudden eruption Saturday still caught many by surprise.

Smoke and ash continues to spew from Marapi’s crater as of Monday, with PNGV warning of possible additional eruptions and urging all locals to avoid the immediate area within 3 km of the crater.

At Least 26 Climbers Near Crater as Eruption Occurs

On the day of the eruption, local media said there were at least 26 climbers from multiple countries, including Taiwan and Indonesia, that ascended Marapi earlier that morning. Some had reached the rim of the crater when the eruption occurred, while others may have still been trekking on one of the hiking trails that snake up the volcano’s slopes.

By Monday, rescuers had recovered at least 11 bodies from the volcano and located another 14 people alive. Those climbers found alive had managed to make their way partway down the mountain on their own before encountering rescuers. All survivors suffered burns and other injuries from the hot ash during their escape.

One woman was six months pregnant when she attempted the Marapi climb. Rescuers found her alive but suffering from hypothermia and brought her to the hospital. Her current condition is unknown.

Three Taiwanese climbers are among the 11 dead, according to Taiwan’s representative office in Indonesia. The identities of the other eight victims have not been released, though local media reports state that an Indonesian celebrity television host is also among the deceased.

Casualty Details Totals
Climbers killed At least 11
Climbers found injured 14
Climbers still missing At least 12

Search and rescue teams continue to scour the volcano and surrounding areas for any missing persons. However, some local officials said hopes were fading for those still unaccounted for.

"It would be very difficult for the missing climbers to survive up on the mountain with their injuries and the freezing overnight temperatures," said one rescue coordinator.

Next Eruptions Possible as Volcanic Activity Continues

Marapi is one of over 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia and is especially popular among domestic tourists and international climbers due to its accessibility. In the past, warnings about volcanic activity have often been ignored by climbers attempting to summit the peak.

Officials said increased seismic activity had been recorded at Marapi over the past several months, indicating rising magma and gas pressure. This pressure built up until it was finally released on Saturday, resulting in the eruption.

Volcanologists are warning eager sightseers to avoid the area as Marapi remains highly active and the possibility for additional eruptions is still considered relatively high. Especially large volcanic earthquakes could trigger further eruption activity.

Locals have also been urged to remain vigilant of mudflows caused by rain mixing with the fresh volcanic ash, which can result in dangerous fast-moving lahars racing down the volcano’s slopes.Several villages located within a few miles of Marapi have already been impacted or evacuated due to the threat of lahars.

"We strongly advise all locals to avoid areas within five km of the crater until volcanic activity subsides," said Indonesia’s Volcanology agency spokesperson.

Ongoing Threats Areas at Risk
Additional eruptions 3 km around crater
Mudflows (lahars) Within several miles of slopes

Until the volcano quiets down again, the people living near Mount Marapi will have to learn to coexist yet again with its fiery, deadly potential.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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