On 1 February 2014 the Mount Sinabung volcano erupted again. The eruption ejected hot clouds of ash 2 km into the air. This has engulfed nearby villages and it is reported that at least 16 people have been killed. It occurred just after residents living more than five kilometers from the mountain were allowed to return home due to recent inactivity.
Among the dead were a local television journalist and four high-school students and their teacher who were visiting the mountain to see the eruptions up close. Seven of the victims were members of the Indonesian Student Christian Movement (GMKI), who died as heat clouds swept across Mount Sinaburg while trying to save local residents.
Scorching clouds engulfed victims during the eruption, leaving rescuers with little hope of finding survivors as they searched through ash up to 30 centimetres thick.
About 170 people, including from the military and police, armed with chainsaws and oxygen apparatus spread out through apocalyptic-like destruction in Sukameriah village, officials said.
Sukameriah, just 2.7 kilometres from Sinabung’s crater, is located in the ‘red zone’ around the volcano, where human activities are strictly banned, disaster official Tri Budiarto said. Residents had been evacuated.
‘It’s very dangerous and completely out of bounds. But many of the tourists still secretly went to the area to take photographs,’ Budiarto added.
The first team to enter the village Sunday morning emerged 15 minutes later empty-handed.
‘There’s no sign of human life. All the crops were gone. Many houses were damaged and those still standing were covered in thick white ash.
Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, was unable to put a figure to the number of people still missing, but said there was a ‘chance’ that the death toll might rise.