A woman flees Sigarang-Garang village. At least 11 people were killed because of the eruption. Tens of thousands of people have been removed from the area in recent months. (Reuters)
The death toll from an Indonesian volcano that has been rumbling for months rose to 16 on Sunday after rescuers found another charred corpse and a critically injured college student died in a hospital, officials said.
Mount Sinabung erupted again on Saturday just a day after authorities allowed thousands of villagers who had been evacuated to return to its slopes, saying volcanic activity was decreasing.
A series of huge blasts and eruptions thundered from the 2,600-metre volcano and a big plume of ash billowed into the sky.
Rescuers found 14 bodies on Saturday and rescued three people with burn wounds, according to a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Rescue efforts resumed on Sunday and another body was discovered about three kilometres from the volcano’s peak.
Another resident, a 24-year-old college student, died in an intensive care unit, according to an official at the Efarina Etaham hospital.
Among the dead were a local television journalist and four high-school students and their teacher who were visiting the mountain to see the eruptions up close, according to the agency spokesman.
At least three other people were injured and authorities fear the death toll will rise.
Sinabung in western Sumatra has been erupting for four months.
Authorities had evacuated an area with more than 30,000 people, housing them in cramped tents, schools and public buildings, but many were desperate to return to check on homes and farms.
On Friday, authorities allowed nearly 14,000 people living outside a five-kilometre danger zone to return after believing volcanic activity had decreased.
Others living close to the peak have been returning to their homes over the past four months despite the dangers.
Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
Mount Sinabung is among about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia and has sporadically erupted since September.