- Indonesian officials raised the alert level for the highest volcano on Java island, noticing Mount Semeru could blow up again after a sudden eruption.
- Indonesia’s geological agency picked up increasing activity that could trigger an avalanche of lava and hot gas.
Indonesian officials raised the alert level for the highest volcano on Java island, noticing Mount Semeru could blow up again after a sudden eruption. This month left 48 people dead and 36 missing in villages buried in layers of mud.
Saturday, Indonesia’s geological agency picked up increasing activity that could trigger an avalanche of lava and hot gas, similar to the December. 4 eruptions, preceded by monsoon rains that partially collapsed a lava dome on the 3,676-meter mountain.
About 8 million cubic meters of sand from the volcano’s crater clogged the Besuk Kobokan River, which is in the path of the lava flow, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arifin Tarif said.
“As a result, if there is one more eruption, it will block the flow path and create new lava flows spreading to the surrounding area,” Tarif said, adding that the government had set up a new danger map and asked people to obey it. It has raised the alert level to the second-highest. Head of Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center stated villagers living on Semeru’s fertile slopes are advised to stay 13 kilometers from the crater’s mouth. She stopped tourism and mining activities along with the Besuk Kobokan drainage area.
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On Friday, the search and rescue operations ended with 36 people not accounted for. One hundred people were injured, 22 of them with severe burns. More than 5,200 buildings and houses were damaged, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Abdul Buhari said.
After visiting the area last week, President Widodo pledged to build again infrastructure, including the main bridge connecting the worst-hit town of Lumajang to other cities, and move 2,970 houses out of the dangerous area.
Semeru, also known as Mahameru, has erupted a few times in the 200 years. As 129 volcanoes are monitored in Indonesia, tens of thousands of people stay on its fertile slopes.
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