Volcanoes Erupt Leaving Villages in Ash

VolcanoesSaturday, February 1, 2014, Volcanoes erupted in Ecuador and Indonesia, leaving villages in evacuation and covered in blankets of ash. Although the Ecuadorian eruption has not reported any fatalities, 14 people have been pronounced dead in Indonesia, with death tolls expecting to rise.

The Tungurahua volcano, located 84 miles from Ecuador’s capitol city of Quito, was reported to have erupted three times on Saturday. Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute reported the first two explosions were rather moderate, whereas the third explosion was of greater size creating major blasts of lava and ash. A pyroclastic flow of rock and lava stretched nearly 1650-feet across the volcano’s banks, the blasts creating a 5-mile pillar of ash above Tungurahua. The volcano peaks at nearly 16,500 feet in height, and has been reported to be active since 1999. Although the Indonesian volcano was also reported being active for several months, the large eruption was not anticipated properly.

Mount Sinabung, in western Sumatra, Indonesia, had been reportedly erupting for four months. Lava and searing gas could be seen from its southern slopes as rocks began rolling down its banks. City authorities had appropriately evacuated over 30,000 people, situating them in tent housing, crammed schools, and public buildings. Many of these families were eager and desperate to return to their homes and farms to get back to making a living, putting the government in a tough position. Friday, city officials allowed nearly 14,000 people outside the three-mile danger zone to return to their residences after volcanic activity seemed to be quieting. It was later admitted that others living closer to the mountain peak were already returning to their homes, despite the danger and government evacuation.

It would be Saturday when a serious of thundering blasts and eruptions were felt from the 8,500-foot volcano. Lava and pyroclastic rock flows would reach up to almost three-miles in length. Like traditional volcanoes, Sinabung left the mountain covered in ash making it difficult for people leaving their villages. Following the blasts city officials have sent in rescue teams, so far finding 14 bodies and three others with burn wounds. Among those reported deceased are a local television journalist and four high-school students and their teacher, who were scaling Mount Sinabung to witness the volcanic activity up-close.

The death-toll has been admitted to be likely rise. City officials and rescue teams know there are still people missing, and the harsh black ash blanketing the trees and skyline impair their teams’ rescue efforts. Some charred corpses have been recovered as far as two miles from the volcano’s peak, as villagers try to salvage what they can from their homes.

Both Volcanoes were viable when it came to leaving their villages and cities blanketed in ash. Unfortunately, Indonesia with its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” is susceptible to seismic and volcanic activity. The “Ring of Fire” harbors roughly 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia alone. Mount Merapi erupted in 2010, killing 324 people in over two months, demonstrating how dangerous and unpredictable these volcanoes really are. These volcanoes are leaving villages covered in ash, rescue teams will continue to update officials on the death tolls.

Editorial By Zane Foley

Sources:

CBC

Washington Post

WTVY

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