Indonesia Volcano: Mt Semeru eruption death toll climbs to 34 people, 17 missing; thousands evacuated

At least 34 people were killed in a volcanic eruption in Indonesia on Sunday, the country’s national disaster agency says.

Mount Semeru engulfed villages in volcanic ash and hot mud on the island of Java, forcing thousands to flee.

Seventeen people are still missing.

Emergency teams and rescue dogs are looking for survivors and bodies in the debris. The operation has been complicated by dangerous conditions and bad weather in the area.

The volcano remains active, with smaller eruptions continuing since the weekend.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited the area on Tuesday and said some 2,000 families could be moved because of the ongoing threat.

“We hope that after everything has subsided, that everything can start: fixing infrastructure or even relocating those from the places we predict are too dangerous to return to,” he said.

Mt Semeru rises 3,676m above sea level and is among Indonesia’s almost 130 active volcanoes. The last time it erupted was in December 2020 and thousands of residents were forced to take shelter.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area where continental plates meet, causing frequent volcanic and seismic activity.