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Death toll rises to 39 after Indonesian volcanic eruption; 12 missing

Published December 08,2021
A villager evacuates her damaged home at Curah Kobokan village in Lumajang on December 8, 2021, after Mount Semeru volcano eruption. (Juni Kriswanto/AFP)

The death toll has climbed to 39 following the eruption of the Semeru volcano in Indonesia's East Java province at the weekend, a search official said Wednesday.

Search teams were still looking for 12 people listed as missing, said I Wayan Suyatna, head of preparedness at the search and rescue agency in East Java.

The eruption sent villagers in Lumajang district fleeing their homes in terror as a huge column of smoke rose into the sky and searing molten rocks and gas barrelled down the slopes.

Dozens were injured, mostly with severe burns, and more than 4,000 were displaced by the disaster, officials said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who visited the scene on Tuesday, promised to relocate more than 2,000 families to safer locations, where new houses will be built.

The nearly 3,700-metre volcano, part of Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, has erupted several times since December last year.

It is the highest mountain on Java island, home to 145 million people.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area known for seismic upheaval, and has about 128 active volcanoes.