Skip to main content

Searches halted in Indonesia after Mount Sinabung eruptions kill 15

By Kathy Quiano and Jethro Mullen, CNN
February 5, 2014 -- Updated 0842 GMT (1642 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rescue workers call off search again, say disaster officials
  • The eruptions Saturday sent plumes of billowing into the sky
  • Hot ash up to 700 degrees raced down the mountain's slope in just a few minutes

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- Search and recovery teams have again halted their perilous task of looking for victims from the recent volcanic eruptions of Indonesia's Mount Sinabung, disaster officials said.

The death toll currently stands at 15 after plumes of ash spewed more than a mile into the sky Saturday and descended in superheated clouds.

Scalding ash up to 700 degrees in temperature raced down the slope in just two to three minutes, engulfing Sukameriah, a village close to the volcano's crater.

A funnel of smoke, visible from kilometers away, has continued to shoot up from the North Sumatra mountain, turning the sky above the color of murky gray ash.

Recovery teams -- a mixture of local rescue workers, military personnel and police -- ventured into the affected area Sunday and Monday, before calling off their search because conditions became unsafe.

The teams were conducting search operations within a 3-kilometer radius of the volcano, Taufik Kartiko, a disaster mitigation agency official, told CNN on Monday.

CNN reporter: `I can feel and taste the ash'
Mount Sinabung releases ash into the sky during an eruption as seen from Payung village in North Sumatra, Indonesia, on Monday, February 3. Sinabung erupted in 2010 and has been emitting gas since September. Mount Sinabung releases ash into the sky during an eruption as seen from Payung village in North Sumatra, Indonesia, on Monday, February 3. Sinabung erupted in 2010 and has been emitting gas since September.
Volcano erupts in Indonesia
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
>
>>
Volcano erupts in Indonesia Volcano erupts in Indonesia

All of the dead, and at least three injured people, were found in Sukameriah, authorities said over the weekend.

It was the first time Mount Sinabung's volcanic output had resulted in deaths, the Jakarta Post reported.

Active volcano

Eruptions at Mount Sinabung are becoming common. After about 400 years of minimal volcanic activity there, Sinabung erupted in 2010. It has been emitting gas since September.

The volcanic volatility has meant an itinerant existence for those who live in this region a 2½ hour flight from Jakarta. Last month, intensifying volcanic activity forced 22,000 people into temporary camps, but more than half were allowed to return home on Friday.

The latest volcanic activity has forced people to evacuate 16 villages, the Jakarta Post reported. At least 30,000 people have been temporarily housed at 42 evacuation centers, according to Billy Sumuan, the emergency response director in Indonesia for the humanitarian group World Vision.

Saturday's victims lived within a 3-kilometer radius of the volcano. Some were there checking on their homes or were there just to watch the eruptions, Nugroho said. Others were students and volunteers in the region to help its beleaguered people, Sumuan said.

The government had issued the highest level of alert for the latest eruptions, and Sumuan noted that no one was supposed to go inside a 5-kilometer zone around the volcano.

Several government agencies and nongovernmental humanitarian groups were on the scene Sunday helping those affected, including World Vision, which Sumuan said was helping children with their trauma and hygiene. The government and local churches handed out masks to everyone to mitigate breathing problems, he said.

READ: What you need to know about volcanoes

READ: Mount Sinabung eruption intensifies

WATCH: Live video of the volcano

Kathy Quiano reported from Jakarta, and Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong. CNN's Paul Devitt and Mark Morgenstein contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Brazil's oldest foe secures its place in the World Cup final for the first time in more than two decades after defeating the Netherlands on penalties.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
A high speed train leaves Beijing south railway station on August 11, 2011.
How Beijing built the world's largest high-speed rail network in less than a decade.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
CNN's Becky Anderson looks at how practicing underwater is the perfect way to prepare for spacewalks.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0917 GMT (1717 HKT)
An emotional Brazil fan reacts after being defeated by Germany 7-1 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Spectacular Germany outplays Brazil to reach the World Cup final with a 7-1 win over the hosts.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0641 GMT (1441 HKT)
CNN's Jim Bittermann takes a look at a family who found the remains of their great- grandfather 100 years later.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Israelis and Palestinians have entered another yet violent cycle of reaction and counterreaction. Here are five things to keep in mind.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Traveling to the U.S.? You could be delayed if your electronic device has a dead battery.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2157 GMT (0557 HKT)
With one hand, Zahra Hassan clutches a purse that matches her red blouse and skirt trimmed in blue. In the other, she holds an AK-47.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT