Exeter, Devon UK • Feb 22, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
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Indonesian volcano eruption

Harry Morrison writes about the recent tragedy that happened in Indonesia and examines to what extent has the presence of Mount Marapi disturbed the local community.
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Image: Dody.bukittinggi via Wikimedia Commons

Indonesia has been thrusted onto an international spotlight as Mount Marapi, one of the nations most active volcanoes, erupted. The eruption took place on 3rd of December, with an ash cloud of 9,485 ft spewing into the Indonesian sky. So far 23 confirmed deaths have come as a result of this major volcanic eruption, as well as complex issues affecting the local communities around the volcano. 

Located on the island of Sumatra, the western and third largest of Indonesia’s 18,000 islands, Marapi, stands at just under 3,000 meters tall. Last erupting in January and February of this year, Marapi is one of the most active volcanoes on Sumatra, however a major eruption of this scale hasn’t been seen since 1979, which saw an eruption kill 60 people. Sitting on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, a region that hosts over 120 active volcanoes, Marapi and other surrounding volcanoes are notorious for their volcanic activity. 

Last erupting in January and February of 2023, Marapi is one of the most active volcanoes on Sumatra, however a major eruption of this scale hasn’t been seen since 1979

According to Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure (BNPB), the volcano in West Sumatra began erupting just before 3 p.m. local time on Sunday, with officials saying the volcanic ash raining down on local communities ‘made the atmosphere in Nagari Lasi very thick’. A further five smaller eruptions took place during the day, causing worsened visibility, making it harder for rescue forces to control the task at hand.

Fox News has further reported that when the eruption began, 75 climbers were at the summit of Mt. Marapi and of those 40 were able to safely descend the mountain. During the week, rescue agencies have continued the search for those that weren’t able to make it out safely. The official death count as of 10th of December stands at 23, showing the scale of this natural disaster. 

On a national scale, Indonesia hasn’t been affected too much with the eruption. Bali, the main tourist island in Indonesia, that stands around 1,600 km away from Marapi, is unaffected. Furthermore, the capital Jakarta is also unaffected with international transport routes taking place as per usual. Consequently, the local and surrounding areas of the volcano have been severely impacted. The ash cloud from the eruption has affected the local city of Bukittinggi, home to over 100,000 people, with the Sunday Times reporting that residents have been advised to wear sunglasses and masks to protect themselves from the ash.

Bali, the main tourist island in Indonesia, that stands around 1,600 km away from Marapi, is unaffected

The eruption of Mount Marapi in Indonesia is a stark reminder of the impacts that natural disasters have on this world, especially on local communities. The outstanding response from local rescue agencies is reflected on the safe evacuation of 40 climbers who were treated with minor injuries. Time will now tell before a natural disaster on a larger scale will take place. 

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