Updated: 29/09/16 : 06:45:16
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

world

World :: Tourists missing after volcano erupts in Indonesia

Hundreds of tourists are unaccounted for after a volcano erupted on the Indonesian holiday island of Lombok.

Mount Barujari, a sub peak of the 3,700m high Mount Rinjani, has been shooting ash thousands of metres into the air.

The volcano is a popular hiking destination for visitors from neighbouring Bali or the backpacking mecca of the Gili islands.

Officials say they believe more than 1,000 tourists were on the mountain at the time, 600 of whom were foreigners.

Indonesia's disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said officials had so far only been able to confirm 260 tourists had left the national park.

The majority of others are also believed to have left the area, but authorities have had difficulty counting them as they flooded out through unofficial exits.

The Jakarta Post reported that West Nusa Tenggara authorities have deployed a team to help locate up to 132 foreign and domestic tourists still on the trails.

Mr Nugroho said some tourists have been unwilling to leave a 3km (two mile) safety zone, as they wanted to get pictures of the eruption.

He said: "Some tourists did not want to leave. They wanted to record the eruption of Barujari and in some cases hid from officials.

"They knew it was dangerous but they still wanted to document the eruption."

Muhammad Rum, a spokesman for the local disaster agency, added the eruption was not a major one and he was sure that all the hikers had now left the area.

All those who had descended were "in good condition and healthy", he added.

"Many of them even videotaped the eruption while enjoying the beauty of the mountain," he added.

The threat level of the volcano was raised on Tuesday as ash shot into the air, but it remains two steps below the highest level on a four-point scale.

Some flights to and from Bali were cancelled on Tuesday and Wednesday but Lombok's international airport remains fully open.