Tragedy strikes as Mount Marapi volcano erupts in Indonesia, 11 hikers found dead and 12 missing

Mount Marapi

4th December 2023 – (Jakarta) A volcanic eruption on Mount Marapi in Indonesia has claimed the lives of at least 11 hikers, while another 12 individuals remain missing. Rescue teams have been working tirelessly to locate and evacuate survivors, carrying injured and burned victims down the mountain by foot.

The eruption occurred on Sunday, causing the volcano to spew an ash tower that reached an astonishing height of 3,000 meters, surpassing the volcano’s own summit. As a result, numerous hikers found themselves stranded on Mount Marapi, requiring urgent assistance.

Rescue efforts continued throughout the night to locate the stranded hikers. The lifeless bodies of the deceased were discovered near the volcano’s crater, following the ash rain that affected nearby villages. A local rescue official confirmed that three people were found alive, while 49 individuals managed to descend safely from the mountain. However, some of them suffered burns and fractures during their descent.

The rescue operation has been a challenging task for the teams involved, as the ongoing eruption prevents the use of helicopters for air searches. Consequently, approximately 120 dedicated rescuers have been manually carrying survivors down the mountain, taking turns to ensure their safety.

Among the survivors, three individuals were found near the volcano’s crater, displaying signs of weakness and burns. In a poignant video message, Zhafirah Zahrim Febrina, one of the rescued hikers, pleaded for help from her mother, vividly illustrating the trauma she endured. The 19-year-old student’s face bore the marks of burns, and her hair was matted with thick grey ash. Currently, Febrina is receiving medical treatment at a nearby hospital, accompanied by her father and uncle. She had been on a hiking trip with 18 school friends when the volcanic eruption occurred.

Febrina’s mother, Rani Radelani, expressed concern for her daughter’s well-being, emphasizing the psychological impact of the harrowing experience. Radelani stated that Febrina was deeply affected by the sight of her burns and endured excruciating pain throughout the night.

Despite the risks posed by sporadic eruptions, the search and rescue efforts have persisted. Jodi Haryawan, a spokesperson for the local rescue agency, assured that the search was not halted and continued whenever conditions allowed. Rudy Rinaldi, the head of the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency, revealed that some of the rescued hikers had sustained burns, particularly those who had approached the crater closely.

The eruption’s impact extended beyond the mountain, with ash rain observed in Bukittinggi, the third-largest city in West Sumatra. The plume of smoke and ash obscured the sun and coated nearby vehicles, including cars, scooters, and ambulances.