Tourists evacuated as volcano erupts
RESCUERS in Indonesia were dispatched yesterday to evacuate nearly 400 tourists, most of them foreigners, after a volcano erupted at one of the country’s most popular hiking destinations, an official said.
Mount Barujani began erupting on September 27, sending columns of ash and smoke shooting 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) into the sky over Lombok island, a tourist hotspot to the immediate east of Bali.
Nearly 400 people were recorded as hiking near Barujani – a smaller cone within the crater of Mount Rinjani – when it began erupting, prompting plans for their immediate evacuation, said national disaster agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
Hikers have been told to keep at least 3 kilometres from the smouldering volcano, a key attraction on the multi-day trek to the summit of Mount Rinjani made by thousands of tourists every year.
Mr Nugroho said 389 hikers were recorded as having entered the national park since September 25, the overwhelming majority of them foreigners and their guides.
While most would have taken the official route to the summit, rescue teams suspected some hikers may have gone off-track and may still be out there, Mr Nugroho added.
The threat level of the volcano was upgraded as Barujani sent plumes of smoke and hot ash into the atmosphere, but remains two steps from the highest-risk category.