The Indonesia’s National Disaster Agency has disclosed that death toll from the eruption of Icountry’s Mount Semeru volcano rose to 34, adding that aid has been deployed to the affected region.
The mountain on the island of Java had thundered to life on Saturday, ejecting volcanic ash high into the sky and raining hot mud on villages as thousands of panicked people fled their homes.
The disaster swallowed entire homes and vehicles, blanketing villages such as Curah Kobokan in grey ash and leaving residents terrified of returning home.
“I’m traumatised, I asked my relatives if they were brave enough to go back to Curah Kobokan and they all said no, they’d rather sleep under a tree,” said Marzuki Suganda, a 30-year-old who works at a sand mine in the area.
“When the eruption happened, I really thought I was going to die here.”
Rescuers have been battling dangerous conditions since the deadly weekend eruption, searching for survivors and bodies in the volcanic debris, wrecked buildings and destroyed vehicles.
Search crews deployed dogs on Tuesday to aid the operation. “The latest update from the ground… (is) 34 people died, 17 are missing,” the disaster agency spokesman Abdul Muhari said. Almost 3,700 have been evacuated from the affected area, he added.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the meeting of continental plates causes high volcanic and seismic activity, and the country has nearly 130 active volcanoes.