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Indonesia’s Mount Marapi eruption claims 23 lives; Concerns arise over climbing permit procedures

Authorities suspect negligence in Mount Marapi’s climbing permit process after its 3 December eruption.

Of the 75 climbers, 52 survived, but 23 were tragically declared deceased, as updated by Police of West Sumatra on Wednesday.

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JAKARTA, INDONESIA: Hendra Gunawan, the Head of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG), raised suspicions of negligence in the authorization process for granting climbing permits on Mount Marapi.

Given the heightened alert status, PVMBG strongly recommended a prohibition on accessing the crater within a 3-kilometer radius.

A total of 75 climbers had acquired permits to ascend Mount Marapi, located on the boundary of Agam and Tanah Datar Regencies in West Sumatra (Sumbar), spanning from Friday (1 November) to Sunday (3 December).

The disaster occurred on Sunday when the 2,891-meter-high Mount Marapi erupted.

The Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Team from the West Sumatra Regional Police (Polda Sumatera Barat) updated the data on victims of the Mount Marapi eruption on Wednesday (6 Dec).

The Chief of Police of West Sumatra, Police Inspector General Suharyono, revealed that the eruption of Mount Marapi had impacted 75 individuals, among whom 52 survived, while 23 were tragically declared deceased.

Suharyono added, “Out of the 23 deceased victims, one person remains to be evacuated, and the evacuation operation will be conducted on Wednesday morning.”

Some of those found have suffered injuries such as burns and broken bones, necessitating medical treatment at hospitals in Padang Panjang and Bukittinggi.

According to detikSumut, the PVMBG Mount Marapi Observation Post reported an eruption at 14:54 Western Indonesian Time (WIB).

Subsequently, an explosive eruption produced an ash column reaching 5,891 meters above sea level, approximately 3,000 meters above the mountain summit.

The gray-colored ash column displayed an eastward inclination, as observed. The seismograph recorded the eruption with a maximum amplitude of 30 millimetres and a duration of 4 minutes and 41 seconds.

“The alert status of Mount Marapi has been in effect since 2011, with a precautionary measure advising residents to avoid approaching within a 3-kilometer radius of the summit. Climbing to the top is strictly prohibited,” stated Hendra in response to inquiries from detikTravel on Tuesday (5 December).

He also emphasised that the eruption of Mount Marapi will continue to recur at unpredictable times so there should be no climbing to the top of the mountain.

Hendra mentioned that PVMBG regularly provides updates on the status and recommendations for Indonesian volcanoes, including Mount Marapi, to regional leaders such as regents and governors, which are submitted bi-weekly.

According to Hendra, this sudden eruption is similar to the one in 2017.

However, in that year, there were no climbers who climbed to the top so there were no fatalities occurred.

 

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