Hundreds of hikers are stranded on an active volcano on the Indonesian island of Lombok after a powerful earthquake triggered landslides. Helicopters have been deployed to rescue the walkers and drop food supplies.
Rescue teams were working Monday to reach more than 500 trekkers trapped on the slopes of Mount Rinjani on Indonesia’s Lombok Island following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake, officials said.
The quake struck the popular holiday island on Sunday, killing 16 people and destroying hundreds of buildings. It also caused landslides that blocked off two walking trails on Rinjani, an active volcano.
“Information that we have from survivors is more than 500 people are trapped on the mountain and gathered near the volcano lake Segara Anakan,” said Mount Rinjani National Park chief Sudiyono, who goes by one name.
The national park authority said on Twitter that it had so far cleared the main route up the slope, allowing some of the hikers to begin their descent.
Meanwhile, helicopters and dozens of emergency workers on foot were deployed to deliver food supplies and search for others still trapped. National park head Sudiyono said as many as 820 people — most of them foreigners — were on the mountain when the earthquake struck.
By late afternoon more than 250 people had reached a relief post in Sembalun village, a local military official, Arifianto, told Indonesian TV. He said a team of rescuers has reached hundreds more near the mountain’s crater lake and they would be led down the mountain. Most of those already rescued were in good condition with some suffering light injuries.
At 3,726 meters (12,224 feet), Mount Rinjani is Indonesia’s second tallest volcano. The two-day trek to the crater is popular with tourists keen to take in views of the volcano’s lake and surrounding jungle.
The epicenter of Sunday’s earthquake was 50 kilometers (30 miles) northeast of Lombok’s main city, Mataram, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Indonesia experiences frequent tremors due to its location on the seismically active “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
aw, nm/rc (Reuters, AFP)