Villagers on the slope of Mt Semeru take refuge after an eruption on Dec. 4, 2021. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Sidkin Ali)

Eight Sand Miners Trapped by Mt Semeru Lava


DECEMBER 04, 2021

Lumajang, East Java. At least one person was confirmed dead and eight villagers working as sand miners remained unaccounted for after Mt. Semeru in East Java erupted on Saturday.

The volcano in the district of Lumajang erupted at around 14:30 local time, spewing out incandescent lava and hot ashes to nearby villages.

Indah Amperawati Masdar, the deputy for Lumajang district head, said one person died and 41 others suffered burns from lava.

Torrential rains have turned debris into the mud, hampering evacuation efforts in remote villages.

“About an hour ago there were still 10 people waiting for evacuation because knee-high mud prevented vehicles from reaching the area,” she said.

She added eight sand miners were trapped by lava but their fate remained unknown based on reports from the scene.

"Their cellphones cannot be reached. They made a video call earlier in the afternoon calling for help but rescue workers couldn’t get there due to the lava. We are waiting for the condition to improve and hopefully, they are okay until we evacuate them later on," she said.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has sent two helicopters to the district to support evacuation works but visibility was very poor due to thick ashes blanketing the area.

The eruption flattened homes and forced at least 300 families from their homes in the village of Curah Kobokan, she added.

Local authorities have declared a restricted zone within 5 kilometers from the crater.

Mt Semeru, whose summit is 3,676 meters above sea level, has been very active in recent years. In March of last year, it spewed lava that flowed 1,000 meters from its crater.

Mount Semeru lava can be seen from Pranajiwo Village, Lumajang, East Java on Wednesday (04/03). The volcanic activity of Mount Semeru has increased since the past week with an intensity of eight times incandescent lava with a distance of 200 to 1,000 from the center of the mountain. At the moment Mount Semeru has an Siaga (watch) status, or Level III (Antara Photo/Umarul Faruq)
File photo: Lava flowing out of Mount Semeru's crater seen from Pranajiwo village near Lumajang in East Java on March 5, 2020. (Antara Photo/Umarul Faruq)