On December 4, 2023, a volcanic eruption on Mount Marapi in Indonesia claimed the lives of 11 hikers, leaving another 12 missing. Rescue efforts are underway as teams work to bring injured survivors down the mountain.
Search operations were temporarily halted due to renewed volcanic activity, with authorities planning to resume once conditions permit. While the majority of the 75 hikers in the area were safely evacuated, the incident underscores the dangers posed by natural disasters in the region.
Following the eruption of Indonesia’s 2,891-meter Marapi volcano, 11 hikers were found deceased near the crater, while 12 remain missing. The volcano’s ash affected nearby villages. Of the 75 hikers present, 49 safely descended, some with burns and fractures. Ongoing eruptions have impeded helicopter searches, and around 120 rescuers are manually bringing down survivors.
Three individuals found alive near the crater, with burn injuries, await descent. The search was briefly halted, and conditions will determine its resumption, according to Abdul Malik, the local rescue agency chief.
A video shared with AFP captured a dramatic rescue scene where a worker, equipped with a head-mounted flashlight, carried a wounded hiker to safety in the dark. Zhafirah Zahrim Febrina, a 19-year-old student among the rescued hikers, appeared in another video message from the volcano, visibly shocked with a burnt face and ash-covered hair, urgently seeking help for her friend Ife. Currently hospitalized with her father and uncle, Zhafirah was part of a group of 18 school friends on a hiking trip trapped on the mountain.
A minimum of eight individuals suffered burns, with one experiencing both burns and a fracture, and another sustaining a head injury. Ahmad Rifandi, a Mount Marapi monitoring station official, informed AFP that ash rain was observed post-eruption, reaching Bukittinggi, the third-largest city in West Sumatra.
The volcanic plume obscured the sun, covering nearby vehicles, scooters, and ambulances in ash. Indonesia, located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, is prone to high volcanic and seismic activity due to the convergence of continental plates, boasting nearly 130 active volcanoes.
Since 2011, Mount Marapi has maintained the third-highest alert level, signifying increased volcanic activity, leading to restrictions within a 3-kilometre radius of the peak. Climbers and villagers are prohibited from this zone, with violations noted by Hendra Gunawan, head of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation. Despite warnings, some climbers reportedly breach regulations. As the search continues for the 12 missing hikers, a TikTok livestream brought relief to the family of Febrina, one of the fortunate survivors, showing her visibly shaken but safe.