Jakarta: The death toll from the eruption of Mount Semeru in Indonesia’s East Java province has increased to 14, while nine others remain missing, an official from the disaster management agency said.
According to the National Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency’s acting spokesman Abdul Muhari, downpours were predicted to fall through the crater and slope of the volcano in the next three days, which may slow the search and evacuation of the victims, Xinhua news agency reported.
“The nine people are still in the status of missing or dead,” he told a joint virtual press conference.
As many as 1,300 people have taken shelters to evacuation centres, the spokesman said,.
“We have sent as many as 20,000 pieces of face masks to the evacuation centres, not only to prevent Covid-19 from spreading but also to avert respiratory problems,” he said.
The official said the government would provide aid in cash of about $34 for one family within the next six months for renting houses, while the government would look for new locations to build houses for those affected by the disaster.
Logistics aids for the affected people have been distributed to the evacuation centres, Muhari said.
The volcano eruption on Saturday with the release of hot clouds has destroyed hundreds of houses, a bridge, education facilities and other infrastructure facilities, according to the agency and a government official.
The Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Centre’s head Andiani told the conference that the eruption released hot clouds by up to 11 km from the crater, and on Sunday the volcano also spewed hot clouds twice.
The evacuation, and search and rescue operation for the victims may be hampered by downpours which may trigger lava floods.
The country’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency warned that heavy rains may happen in days ahead.
“There are still a potential of rains, with the level of weak, moderate and heavy, pouring down the areas of the crater and the slope of the volcano in the next three days,” A Fachri Rajab, head of the Centre of Public Meteorology of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said.
Volcanic ashes along with heavy downpours have become thick mud which submerged houses, roads and other infrastructure facilities in Lumajang district.