At least 11 hikers killed and a dozen missing after Indonesia volcano eruption

At least 11 hikers killed and a dozen missing after Indonesia volcano eruption

At least 11 hikers were found dead on Monday following a huge eruption at the Marapi volcano in Indonesia, as efforts continue to find another dozen climbers who have been reported missing.

Three survivors were found near the volcano’s crater, described as being in a weak condition and having suffered burns.

The 2,891-metre-tall Marapi volcano in West Sumatra province erupted on Sunday, spewing ash as high as 3km into the sky that rained volcanic debris onto nearby villages.

About 75 climbers became stranded after beginning their trek on Saturday, West Sumatra's Search and Rescue Agency head Abdul Malik said.

Of those, around 50 were successfully evacuated, while a rescue operation was launched to track down the other 26.

"There are 26 people who have not been evacuated, we have found 14 of them, three were found alive and 11 were found dead," said Mr Malik. "The evacuation process of the bodies and survivors are still ongoing.”

The ongoing eruption prevented air evacuation by helicopters, Mr Malik told AFP. "Visually, until this morning, smoke [is] still billowing from the top. Visually, everything still looks grey."

The search operation was briefly suspended on Monday due to “dangerous” conditions following another small eruption, Reuters reported.

On Sunday, eight of the initial 50 rescued hikers were rushed to hospitals with burn wounds and broken limbs, said Hari Agustian, an official at the local search and rescue agency in Padang.

Videos on social media showed the climbers being evacuated to a shelter, their faces and hair smeared with volcanic dust and rain.

Authorities over the weekend raised the alert to the second-highest level, shut down two climbing routes and prohibiting locals living on the slopes of Marapi from going within 3km of the crater due to potential lava.

Falling ash blanketed several villages and blocked sunlight, according to the National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari, who added that authorities distributed masks and urged residents to wear glasses or goggles to protect them from volcanic ash.

About 1,400 people live on Marapi's slopes in Rubai and Gobah Cumantiang, the nearest villages about 5 to 6km from the peak.

The South Asian country sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region of high seismic activity along tectonic faultlines with some of the world’s most active volcanoes. The archipelago has more than 120 volcanoes in all and the largest global population – nearly 8.6 million people – living close to a volcano.

Marapi – the most active volcano on Sumatra island – killed nearly 60 people during its most deadly eruption in April 1979.