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

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora