Indonesia: Rescuers searching for hundreds of tourists after Lombok volcano eruption
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Indonesia: Rescuers searching for hundreds of tourists after Lombok volcano eruption

INDONESIAN authorities are searching for several hundred tourists while over 1,100 others were evacuated after Mount Barujari on Lombok island spewed a massive column of ash into the atmosphere, the country’s disaster agency said Wednesday.

The volcano, also known as the Child of Rinjani because it sits within the Mount Rinjani caldera, erupted without warning on Tuesday afternoon, delaying flights from airports on the islands of Lombok and Bali. The ash column reached 2,000 meters (6,560 feet).

Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that nearly 400 foreign and local tourists had been registered since Sunday to climb the mountain, leaving from Sembalun monitoring post, about 11 kilometers (7 miles) from the volcano’s crater.

There have been no reports of injuries from the eruption.

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According to the Associated Press, Heronimus Guru, the deputy operations chief at Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency, said Wednesday that about 120 tourists, mainly foreigners, had been located so far and were heading down the mountain.

The eruption interrupted flights for several hours at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali and Lombok International Airport, the news agency reported.

Sutopo was quoted in Tempo as saying that intensive monitoring will be conducted to evaluate the level of volcanic activity at Mount Rinjani.

He said locals and tourists are not allowed to enter the caldera of Mount Rinjani within a radius of 3km from Barujari, adding an estimated 389 tourists were at the mountain when it erupted.

“Thin layer of ash has been spread across several areas by strong winds, people’s normal daily activities are not interrupted,” he said.

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Farms and trees around the 3,726-meter (12,224-foot) -high volcano were coated in a thin layer of gray ash, but nearby towns and villages were not in danger, Nugroho said.

Rinjani is among about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia. The archipelago is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”

Additional reporting from the Associated Press