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Indonesian volcano erupts again, spewing ash cloud

By AFP
16 December 2021   |   11:47 am
Indonesia's mount Semeru erupted twice Thursday, belching a massive column of ash into the sky followed by a flow of lava that sent hundreds of rescuers fleeing in panic.

Mount Semeru spews thick smoke in Lumajang on December 16, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Indonesia’s mount Semeru erupted twice Thursday, belching a massive column of ash into the sky followed by a flow of lava that sent hundreds of rescuers fleeing in panic.

The highest mountain on the island of Java erupted earlier this month, killing at least 48 and leaving a dozen people missing.

Rescuers were digging through the mud and volcanic debris when ash — which reached 4.5 kilometres from the peak — and lava flow from the latest twin eruptions forced them to suspend the mission.

“It is too dangerous for rescuers to continue,” rescuer Saiful Hasan told AFP, explaining rain had sped up the flow of lava to the villages.

No casualties or injuries were immediately reported, as rescuers said villages had been evacuated earlier.

But the collapse of the lava dome after the earlier eruption may mean that Semeru will spew volcanic materials more frequently, Hasan said.

“Not to mention that we are now in the rainy season that could trigger a spill from the crater,” he added.

Thursday was supposed to be the last search day, but the operation might be extended further.

The December 4 disaster left entire streets filled with mud and ash, swallowing homes and vehicles, with nearly 10,000 people seeking refuge.