Volcano Spews Searing Ash Killing 16 People


A volcano in Indonesia has spewed searing ash when it erupted Saturday morning. Mount Sinabung erupted just a day after authorities had allowed villagers to return to their farms and homes. The volcano, which had been disruptive for the last several months, finally gave way after the rumblings, and killed 16 people.

Thousands had just returned to their homes on Friday after authorities allowed it. They had been living in tents and public places such as schools and government buildings. It had been difficult for the government to help these people, as they needed to check on homes and farms. Thirty thousand people had been evacuated and were living under these conditions.

A television journalist and four students, including a teacher were killed. They had been trying to get close to observe the volcano when it erupted. The volcano, Mount Sinabung, had been erupting for months with hot lava and gas spewing down its slopes. After the volcano had apparently decreased in activity 14,000 were allowed to return.

That, however, proved to be too soon. The volcano erupted from its 8,530 foot peak with flows of lava reaching 2.8 miles away. The volcano, which spewed searing, toxic ash and gas for miles, killed at least 16 people and was seen over villages and trees, including their farms. Saturday, after the eruption, the villagers were ordered back to the centers where evacuees had been living.

Authorities feel the death toll will rise, as people were still missing when rescue efforts were dampened upon nightfall.

Mount Sinabung, an active volcano in Indonesia, is one of 130 volcanoes there located in the “Ring of Fire.” This area in the Pacific has increased seismic activity due to fault lines in the Pacific Basin. 324 people were killed in 2010 in Indonesia when Mount Merapi became volatile. Scientists do monitor these volcanoes, but predicting the time of eruption is not always possible.

The President of Indonesia, Gusilo Bambang Yudhayono, visited these villagers the week before, promising them a new home away from the volcano. People in the village live off the sides of these mountains near the volcano, as the ashes from eruptions makes the soil fertile.

Volcano Sinabung’s last big eruption came in August of 2010 when two people lost their lives. Prior to that, it had remained inactive for four hundred years. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency reported these latest deaths, citing one college student age 24, died in the hospital in intensive care. Four children were included in the death toll thus far.

The island of Sumatra in Indonesia is where this Mount Sinabung is located. Villagers were seen running along dirt roads to escape the hot lava, fire and searing ash as the volcano erupted. Many of these villagers had been secretly returning to check on their farms despite warnings. Just having returned on Friday, this disaster caught them off-guard Saturday morning. The death toll for now is 16 with many injured from the searing grey fumes and spewing ash. Some villagers were seen gazing at the billowing smoke as it erupted while others ran to safety.

By Kim Troike





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