11 bodies recovered from volcano eruption in Indonesia, 22 climbers still missing

BATANG, Indonesia (AP) — The bodies of 11 climbers were recovered Monday after Mount Marafi erupted, with Indonesian rescuers missing at least 22 people.

Mount Marabi in Agam district in West Sumatra province erupted suddenly on Sunday, spewing plumes of ash 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) into the sky and hot ash clouds spreading for miles (kilometers). Villages and nearby towns were covered by tons of volcanic debris.

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 hospitals with burns and one suffered a broken limb, said Hari Augustian, an official with the local search and rescue agency in the provincial capital, Batang.

Abdul Malik, head of West Sumatra’s search and rescue agency, said rescuers found the bodies of 11 climbers on Monday morning and rescued three others who were still missing.

“The process of evacuating bodies and survivors is still going on,” he said, adding that rescue workers are still missing 22 climbers.

A video on social media on Saturday showed the climbers being evacuated to a shelter, their faces and hair covered in volcanic dust and rain.

Two climbing routes were closed after the eruption and residents on Marabi’s slopes were advised to stay 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) away from the crater’s mouth due to lava flow, said Ahmad Rifandi, an official at Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Reduction. Marabi Observation Post.

National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said several villages were closed and sunlight was blocked due to the ash fall. Officials distributed masks and urged residents to wear goggles to protect against volcanic ash, he said.

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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.

Marabi’s alert level was maintained at the third-highest of four levels, Abdul Muhari said, and confirmed that authorities were closely monitoring the volcano after sensors began increasing activity in recent weeks.

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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