Rescue teams have discovered the final body of hikers who were caught off guard by a recent eruption of Mount Marapi in Indonesia. This brings the total number of confirmed fatalities to 23, according to authorities on Wednesday.
On Saturday, approximately 75 climbers began their ascent of a mountain measuring almost 2,900 meters (9,480 feet) in the Agam district of West Sumatra province. As a result, they became stuck and unable to proceed.
52 mountaineers were saved following the initial explosion on Sunday. At first, 11 casualties were reported. On Monday and Tuesday, fresh outbursts released clouds of hot ash reaching heights of 800 meters (2,620 feet), obstructing visibility and temporarily pausing efforts to find and retrieve victims. According to Abdul Malik, leader of the Padang Search and Rescue Agency, these events occurred.
The National Search and Rescue Agency reported the discovery of two climbers’ bodies on Monday and an additional nine on Tuesday.
Suharyono, the Police Chief of West Sumatra, announced that the remains of the final climber were discovered on Wednesday morning, only a short distance from the location of the eruption. This brings the total number of fatalities to 23.
The rescuers faced challenges of inclement weather and rugged landscape, compounded by winds carrying the heat from the volcanic eruptions. Meanwhile, anxious family members gathered at a relief center in Batu Palano on the mountain’s slope, seeking updates on their missing loved ones.
By Wednesday morning, a total of twenty individuals had been transported to a hospital for identification. Approximately 300 rescue workers, consisting of police and soldiers, were facing challenges in bringing down the remaining individuals from the mountain and locating the climber who is still missing. According to Suharyono, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name, these efforts are ongoing.
Since 2011, Marapi has remained at the third highest level out of four alert levels. This indicates that there has been above-normal volcanic activity, requiring climbers and villagers to stay at a distance of more than 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the peak. This information comes from Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation.
According to regulations, climbers were limited to areas below the danger zone and were required to register at two command posts or online. However, local authorities recognize that some individuals may have exceeded the permitted altitude.
Marapi spewed thick columns of ash as high as 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) in Sunday’s eruption and hot ash clouds spread for several kilometers (miles). Nearby villages and towns were blanketed by tons of volcanic debris that blocked sunlight, and authorities recommended that people wear masks to protect themselves from the ash.
Approximately 1,400 individuals reside on the slopes of Marapi in the villages of Rubai and Gobah Cumantiang, which are located about 5 to 6 kilometers (3 to 3.7 miles) away from the summit.
Marapi is known for sudden eruptions that are difficult to predict because the source is shallow and near the peak, and its eruptions are not caused by a deep movement of magma, which sets off tremors that register on seismic monitors.
Marapi has been active since a January eruption that caused no casualties. It is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
The report was contributed to by Edna Tarigan, a writer for the Associated Press in Jakarta, Indonesia.