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Indonesia ends search after volcano eruption kills 23

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesian authorities yesterday said they had ended a search and rescue mission for any hikers missing or killed after a volcano eruption over the weekend that left 23 people dead.

Mount Marapi on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia’s west spewed an ash tower 3,000 metres into the sky on Sunday as 75 people hiked in the area.

Scores were rescued but 23 people were found dead, on Wednesday evening, in an arduous rescue effort hampered by further eruptions and bad weather that sometimes forced workers to take shelter.

Officials said they believed every missing person had been located and evacuated dead or alive, despite initial fears some may have used unofficial hiking routes and been unaccounted for. Hikers exploring the area must register with local authorities via an online booking system, paying a small fee and taking designated entrances.

“All victims have been found, the last victim was found dead. Therefore, based on an evaluation, the search and rescue operation led by Basarnas is closed,” Agam disaster mitigation agency official Ichwan Pratama said in a statement yesterday. “We will still activate the emergency post in case there are still families looking for their relatives, they can come here by bringing valid data.”

Members of an Indonesian search and rescue team gather for a roll call as they conclude the search operations on Mount Marapi in West Sumatra, Indonesia. PHOTO: AFP