News / Asia

    Indonesia's Mount Sinabung Volcano Claims 15 Lives

    Villagers flee as Mount Sinabung releases pyroclastic flows during an eruption in Namantaran, North Sumatra, Feb. 1, 2014.
    Villagers flee as Mount Sinabung releases pyroclastic flows during an eruption in Namantaran, North Sumatra, Feb. 1, 2014.
    Kate Lamb
    Mount Sinabung, an active volcano on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island, has been spewing ash for months, but a sudden eruption has killed at least 15 people in recent days.
     
    Officials have been cautiously exploring ash-engulfed terrain to recover the victims of Saturday’s blasts, but eruptions Sunday and Monday continue to hamper recovery efforts.
     
    Victims who perished in the consecutive, pyroclastic blasts include a group of students, their teacher, and a reporter. Three local residents believed to be visiting a family grave were also among those killed.
     
    The visiting student group was reportedly distributing aid on behalf of the Christian Students Movement.
     
    Officials said the victims ignored the warnings to avoid the designated hazard zone, including the village of Sukameriah, which is located less than three kilometers from Mount Sinabung’s summit.
     
    Surono, head of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation, said his agency has warned local residents to avoid that area for months.
     
    "This is a very bad situation but before the eruptions in 2013 we continued to [educate]… the people around the Sinabung, the dangers of Sinabung, and how to anticipate it if there is an eruption," said Surono.
     
    More than 30,000 people have evacuated the surrounding area since Mount Sinabung started spewing ash clouds, lava and rocks last September.
     
    Volcanic activity intensified from mid to late January, with up to 20 eruptions per day before the fatal blasts.
     
    Surono said his agency and the local community remain on high alert, but the frequency of eruptions, down to ten per day, suggest the level of volcanic activity on Mount Sinabung may be decreasing.
     
    Indonesia, which straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the Pacific Ring Fire, is home to 129 active volcanoes.
     
    The most active of those is Mount Merapi. Eruptions from Merapi killed more than 350 people in central Java in 2010.
     
    Comparing the two volcanoes, Surono said Sinabung is unlikely to unleash that much damage.
     
    “Merapi, the dangerous zone was about 20 kilometers from the summit. Sinabung, it is only five kilometers… If I look at the quantity of information and volcanic activity I think Sinabung is not comparable with Merapi,” said Surono.
     
    However, big or small, Surono said volcanic eruptions are always dangerous, especially when people get too close.
     
    On Monday, the spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency confirmed that areas around three separate volcanoes, in Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara, had been placed on high alert.
     
    Communities in those areas are now being advised to prepare to evacuate.

    • Mount Sinabung spews ash as seen from Payung village in Karo district, North Sumatra province, Indonesia, Feb. 3, 2014.
    • Ash-covered motorcycles are pictured as a rescue team walks by following the Mount Sinabung eruption at Suka Meriah village in Karo, North Sumatra province, Feb. 2, 2014.
    • A police officer walks through ash during rescue operations after the Mount Sinabung eruption, near Suka Meriah village in Karo, North Sumatra province Feb. 2, 2014.
    • Nurses dress a victim of the eruption of Mount Sinabung for burial at a hospital in Kabanjahe, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Feb. 1, 2014.
    • Villagers flee as Mount Sinabung releases pyroclastic flows during an eruption in Namantaran, North Sumatra, Feb. 1, 2014.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora