Indonesia: Flash floods and cold lava makes nearly 37 dead in Sumatra

Marapi has been active since a January 2023 eruption, with no deaths reported. It is one among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia.
Indonesia: Flash floods and cold lava makes nearly 37 dead in Sumatra

Heavy rains and torrents of icy lava and mud gushing down the slopes of a volcano on Indonesia's Sumatra island created flash floods, killing at least 37 people and leaving more than a dozen more missing, officials said Sunday.

Monsoon rains and a massive mudslide from a cool lava flow on Mount Marapi caused a river to burst its banks and smash through mountainside settlements in four districts of West Sumatra province just before midnight Saturday.

According to Abdul Muhari, spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Agency, the floodwaters took away people and drowned over 100 houses and buildings.

Cold lava, also known as lahar, is a mixture of volcanic material and pebbles that flows down a volcano's slopes after rain.

By Sunday afternoon, rescuers had recovered 19 bodies in the worst-hit village of Canduang in Agam district, as well as nine more in the neighbouring district of Tanah Datar, according to a National Search and Rescue Agency statement. It added that rescuers are still looking for 18 people who are reported missing.

Marapi is notable for unexpected eruptions since the source is shallow and close to the summit, and its eruptions are not generated by deep magma movement, which causes tremors that are detected by seismic monitors.

Marapi has been active since a January 2023 eruption, with no deaths reported. It is one among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia. The country is vulnerable to seismic activity due to its placement on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines that encircles the Pacific Basin.

Video Credit: Associated Press

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Indonesia: Flash floods and cold lava makes nearly 37 dead in Sumatra

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