(LibertySons.org) – The Ring of Fire in the Pacific describes a series of geologically active locations, including West Sumatra, Indonesia, which lies just off the Sunda Trench in the Indian Ocean. On Sunday, December 3, Mount Merapi, an active volcano located about 500 miles north of the infamous Krakatoa volcano, erupted without prior warning, cascading hot ash plumes down the mountainside while as many as 75 unsuspecting hikers trekked toward the observation limit. The tragedy killed and injured several and left many missing in the aftermath.
Search and rescue teams from the nearby city of Panang located the bodies of 11 hikers and evacuated dozens more, but subsequent eruptions made continued searches nearly impossible. By Monday morning, scientists tallied eight eruption events from the volcano and expected more.
Rescuers accounted for 49 trekkers who had returned from the mountain, nine with burns requiring treatment at a local Padang hospital. Searchers said they knew three more had survived, but the additional eruptions had prevented them from rescuing the trio. Unfortunately, team leader Abdul Malik said searchers could not account for the location of 12 hikers, and efforts remained hampered by volcanic activity.
One trekker, Lingga Duta Andrefa, a student at a university, told The New York Times he was hiking with two friends when hot ash surrounded them. “I am still traumatized,” he told the outlet. He thanked God that he and his friends made it off the mountain safely.
The eruption sent a column of molten sand, ash, and rocks up to 10,000 feet into the air and covered a five-mile diameter area in debris. Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency asked residents to remain inside their homes as ash fell on nearby towns.
Mount Marapi has a history of eruptions, with its most recent activity in January. In fact, the West Sumatra Conservancy Agency had closed the mountain until July. Director Dian Indriati told news outlets that she and her team hadn’t seen any indications that the volcano was entering an active phase, or they would never have issued permits to hikers. The agency also closed Marapi in 2019 and 2011 because of seismic and volcanic activity.
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