Officials announced on Thursday that the search for additional victims among the climbers affected by the eruption of Mount Marapi in Indonesia over the weekend has concluded. The tragic event resulted in the death of 23 individuals and left several others injured.
On Saturday, approximately 75 climbers began their ascent of the almost 2,900-meter (9,480-foot) mountain located in Agam district of West Sumatra province. The next day, while the climbers were on the volcano, it erupted.
Earlier, Suharyono, the Police Chief of West Sumatra, stated that the confirmed number of deaths had risen to 23 after the body of a female university student was found on Wednesday. Officials have announced that they believe all of the deceased have been found as of Thursday.
“Following a review of the search and rescue findings, authorities have concluded the operation in Mount Marapi after locating all victims by Wednesday evening,” stated Abdul Muhari, spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
On Wednesday evening, the National Search and Rescue Agency reported that all of the bodies had been transported to a hospital for identification.
52 climbers were saved following the first eruption on Sunday, and around 12 of them were transported to hospitals for injuries ranging from severe to minor.
During the eruption on Sunday, Marapi emitted dense ash columns reaching up to 3 kilometers (over 9,800 feet) and hot ash clouds that spread for several kilometers (miles). The surrounding villages and towns were covered in volcanic debris, causing a blockage of sunlight. As a precaution against the ash, authorities advised people to wear masks.
Subsequent smaller eruptions released additional ash into the atmosphere, causing decreased visibility and a temporary pause in search and rescue efforts.
Marapi is notorious for unexpected outbursts that are challenging to anticipate due to the absence of underlying magma movement that triggers seismic activity detectable by monitoring devices.
Since 2011, the volcano in Indonesia has been on the country’s second highest alert level. This means that there is a higher than normal level of volcanic activity, and both climbers and villagers are required to stay at least 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) away from the peak. This information comes from Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation.
Rock climbers were not authorized to progress into the hazardous area, however, authorities in the area recognized that numerous individuals may have ascended beyond the allowed limit.
Indonesia has over 120 active volcanoes, with Marapi being one of them. The country is at risk for seismic activity because it is situated on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a ring of volcanoes and fault lines surrounding the Pacific Basin.
This report received contributions from Niniek Karmini and Edna Tarigan, writers for the Associated Press, based in Jakarta, Indonesia.