Indonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano erupts, thousands flee

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Dec. 4 (UPI) — The Mount Semeru volcano in Indonesia’s East Java province erupted Saturday, causing thousands of people to flee the smoke and ash falling from the sky.

Budi Santosa, head of Disaster Management of East Java Province, said no casualties have been reported thus far, but emergency teams are still working to fully assess the situation on the ground.

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East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa ordered an evacuation of villages located nearby the volcano.

The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) tweeted photos showing residents fleeing in Lumajang district as ash fell from the sky onto the streets.

Thoriqul Haq, head of Lumajang district, said a thunderstorm and rain that coincided with the eruption caused lava and smoldering debris to form a thick mud, which destroyed at least one bridge connecting the villages of Pronojiwo and Candipuro. The mud and destroyed bridge were obstacles to evacuation efforts, Haq said.

“Thick columns of ash have turned several villages to darkness,” Haq told broadcaster TV One.

Mount Semeru last erupted in January 2021. No casualties were reported from the previous eruption.