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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid