Mount Semeru spews ash, local people flee in fear


Mount Semeru, a volcano in Indonesia’s East Java Province, erupted on Saturday. The date was the 4th of December. It spewed a column of smoke and ash while displacing thousands from the area, authorities said.

The eruption has killed at least one person and wounded 41 others. Indah Masdar, deputy head of Lumajang District, said this in a press conference held in Jakarta.

Budi Santosa, Head of Disaster Management of East Java Province gave a statement. He said earlier on Saturday that the volcanic eruption “badly affected” two sub-districts.

People reported about the Volcanic ash and the smell of sulfur was around 3 p.m. local time (3 am ET). The Mount Semeru Volcano Observation Post reported this. It added that hot ash clouds were falling towards an East Java village, Sapitarang, in Pronojiwo District.

Videos shared by government emergency response teams showed residents in the area running away from huge thick clouds of smoke.

Other footage shared by locals showed people gathering at a local mosque in Besuk Kobokan as ash and smoke blanket the surrounding streets. Some people started shouting “Allahu akbar!” or God is greatest.

Santosa told the news conference that he believed health facilities in the disaster area, either primary health centers or hospitals, would be able to accommodate victims.

His team is currently trying to conduct evacuations and prepare refugee camps in the area, that would provide food, masks, blankets, and shelter for displaced residents. The country’s disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) is also trying evacuation. But BNPB chief Suharyanto said that the thick smoke hampered the evacuation process.

AirNav Indonesia, which controls Indonesian airspace, said in a statement the eruption did not “cause significant impact” on flights.

Thoriqul Haq, district head of Lumajang near Semeru, said the road and bridge connecting Lumajang and the nearby city of Malang broke down. Local media also reported that several houses were buried under the weight of volcanic debris.

Indonesia sits between two continental plates, People popularly know this as the Ring of Fire. It is a band around the basin of the Pacific Ocean that leads to high levels of tectonic and volcanic activity.

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