Search on for survivors
KARO — Indonesian rescuers will search through thick ash yesterday hoping to find survivors after Mount Sinabung volcano erupted engulfing victims in scorching clouds, killing 15 people including four high-school students. The volcano on the western island of Sumatra started erupting in September but on yesterday spewed hot rocks and ash 2,000 metres into the air, blanketing the surrounding countryside with grey dust. About 100 rescuers, including from the military and police, armed with chainsaws and oxygen apparatus will carry out the difficult search through up to 30-centimetre thick ash in Sukameriah village — just 2.7 kilometres from the volcano’s crater, disaster and local officials said.
“We don’t know how many people are missing but rescuers today will resume evacuation and look for anyone still trapped,” National Disaster Management Agency official Tri Budiarto said. “They will be wearing facemasks and use chainsaws to cut any fallen branches along the way,” he added. Weather conditions may also affect search operations, officials warned. “It’s cloudy today so we worry that it might rain,” Karo district spokesman Robert Peranginangin. “If it rains, the area will be muddy and hard to walk, so we will have to stop search and rescue,” he added. Lethal heat clouds cascaded down the volcano after Saturday’s deadly eruption, killing 15 people — mainly local tourists — including four high school students on a sightseeing trip.
Three other people are being treated for serious burns at a local hospital. Officials are also putting up more signs to warn people not to enter the area, officials said. Sukameriah village is located in the “red zone” around the volcano, where human activities are strictly banned, Budiarto said. — AFP