Tue, 18 Jan 2022

JAKARTA, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The death toll of Semeru volcano eruption in Indonesia's East Java province rose to 22 on Monday with more than 30 people missing, while search for the victims was underway amid a potential of lava floods and hot clouds.

The rescuer team found several bodies buried by mud in Lumajang district on Monday, and the number of missing people may rise as there were sand mining activities on rivers during the eruption, said Daniel Riza, an official at the data and information center of the district's disaster management and mitigation agency.

"The reports coming to us showed that 22 died, and 30 persons lost contacts, and the number could be more than that as there were some mining activities on the rivers just before the eruption," he told Xinhua.

The natural disaster has forced 1,700 people to flee homes and take shelters at evacuation centers as hundreds of houses, a bridge and other infrastructure facilities were destroyed, the official said.

Head of the Geological Agency at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Eko Budi Lelono said there was still a potential for hot clouds to spread from the crater of the volcano, so that the red zone where the clouds may pass through must be emptied.

"The potential for the hot clouds to spread still exists. With a tool, it can be known just before it happens," he told a virtual press conference.

On Sunday, the country's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency warned that heavy rains might happen in the coming days.

Heavy rains have usually triggered lava floods after volcanic eruptions in the vast archipelagic nation.

"There are still a potential of rains, with the level of weak, moderate and heavy, pouring down the areas around the crater and the slope of the volcano in the next three days," Fachri Rajab, head of the Center for the Public Meteorology of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), told a press conference.

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