JAKARTA, July 30, 2018 (Reuters) - Nearly 700 trekkers headed down Mount Rinjani on Indonesia’s tourist island of Lombok on Monday, a day after a powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.4 terrified the climbers as boulders tumbled down the slopes of the volcano.
Officials said the death toll from Sunday’s earthquake, which was centered on the northern part of Lombok, but was also felt on the resort island of Bali to the west, stood at 16. More than 335 people were injured, many by collapsing buildings.
“I thought I was going to die,” said John Robyn Buenavista, a 23-year-old American, who was at the summit when the quake hit. “I was clinging to the ground. It felt like it lasted forever. I saw people fall off, but it’s a blur.”
The national park authority said on Monday that a key route to the peak of the 3,726-meter (12,224-foot) volcano had been cleared, and a helicopter was dropping supplies to others still picking their way to safety.
An estimated 689 people were still on Rinjani, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman of the national disaster mitigation agency.
“Hundreds of trekkers in the crater in climbing areas couldn’t come down when they wanted to, because the paths were covered by debris from landslides and there were fears of subsequent landslides,” Sutopo told a news conference.
As many as 820 people - most of them foreigners - were on Mount Rinjani when the quake struck, making two trails impassable, Sutopo said on Twitter late on Sunday.
Thais formed the largest group among the 637 foreigners who registered to climb the mountain on July 27 and 28, making up 337, with French, Dutch and Spanish the next-biggest contingents.
Mount Rinjani National Park said in a Twitter message on Monday that a key route, Senaru, had been reopened for people to come down.
Authorities expected 500 trekkers to arrive at the foot of the mountain by 5 pm, said Agung Pramuja, a disaster mitigation official in Indonesia’s region of West Nusa Tenggara.
A landslide triggered by the quake trapped a group of six at the crater lake of Indonesia’s second-highest volcano, he added, with about 100 army, police and other rescuers working to get people down, while helicopters scoured for those still trapped.
Trekkers typically take two days and a night to get to the crater rim of Rinjani and back down again, the national park says on its website.
Buenavista, the U.S. tourist, said he was about to take some dawn photographs at the crater edge when the earthquake struck, and his immediate thought was that the volcano had erupted.
“I started running to the trail,” he told Reuters by telephone from the Gili Islands, off Lombok’s northwest coast, where he headed after a seven-hour trek to the foot of the peak.
“At one point, I saw people with half of their bodies stuck in the rocks and I just couldn’t move. I felt paralysed and stopped moving. The guides were screaming, ‘Don’t die, don’t die.’ One of the guides had to shake me and take me by the hand. He told me that I had to go, and that they would be okay.”
A magnitude 6.4 earthquake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage.
The Lombok quake struck at 6:47 am (22:47 GMT on Saturday) at a shallow depth of 4.35 miles (7 km) that amplified its effect. Officials said 280 aftershocks followed the initial quake.
Earthquakes are common in Indonesia, which is located on the seismically active “Ring of Fire” on the rim of the Pacific Ocean.
GUATEMALA CITY, July 4, 2018 (News Wires) — Authorities in Guatemala have raised by more than 130 the number of people officially missing from last month’s deadly eruption of the Volcano of Fire.
The country’s disaster agency says in a statement that the new figure is 332, up from 197 previously.
It said Wednesday that the revision followed a review of nearly 200,000 records and verifying lists of people living in shelters.
The Volcano of Fire is one of the region’s most active, located to the southwest of Guatemala City.
Authorities have confirmed at least 113 deaths from the June 3 eruption, which sent superheated flows raging through small villages. Eighty-five of those bodies have been identified.
DENPASAR, June 29, 2018 (News Wires) - Bali opened its international airport on Friday after a volcanic eruption temporarily grounded flights, stranding thousands of tourists on the Indonesian holiday island
Ngurah Rai airport began operating around 2:30pm local time (07:30 GMT), about 12 hours after it closed in response to Mt. Agung belching smoke and ash.
Ash is dangerous for planes because it makes runways slippery and can be sucked into their engines.
A change in wind direction pushed the ash away from Bali’s international gateway, allowing flights to resume, an airport official said.
“The airport will operate for 24 hours straight to get flights back on schedule,” he added.
The early morning closure sparked the cancellation of more than 300 flights to and from the tropical paradise with nearly 27,000 passengers affected, according to the airport.
About 400 local residents living near the rumbling volcano - about 75 kilometres from Bali’s tourist hub of Kuta - moved to evacuation centres.
A striking orange-red glow could be seen at the top of Agung’s crater after it shot plumes of thick smoke some 2,000 metres (6,500 feet) into the sky Thursday evening.
Authorities closed the airport after a pilot flying overhead detected traces of volcanic ash as high as 23,000 feet.
An eruption at Agung in November also stranded thousands and pounded Bali’s lucrative tourism industry, the backbone of its economy.
Tens of thousands of locals fled to evacuation centres after last year’s eruption.
Australian visitor Rod Bird came early to the airport only to be told his flight back to Perth had been cancelled for the second time.
An earlier flight on AirAsia was called off before the airport was shuttered early Friday morning.
Thousands were stranded at the airport or nearby hotels Friday, but it was not immediately clear how many tourists were unable to leave the island.
Despite the eruption, Agung’s status remained on alert level, the second highest danger warning.
There is a four-kilometre (2.5 mile) no-go zone around Agung’s peak.
Agung has been erupting periodically since it rumbled back to life last year.
Guatemala City, June 26, 2018 (AFP) - Guatemala on Monday asked the US government to give its migrants Temporary Protected Status after the devastating Fuego volcano eruption.
Officials have confirmed the deaths of 112 people as a result of the eruption on June 3, but scores more people remain unaccounted for.
"I have instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to request immediately from the government of the United States of America, Temporary Protected Status (TPS)" for migrants from Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales said on Twitter.
Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel said later that she sent a note to President Donald Trump's administration making the request "in favour of our migrant brothers."
The goal is "to benefit (undocumented) nationals who live ... in the United States with a work permit to avoid their deportation," she added.
The volcano, 35 kilometres southwest of the capital, sent an avalanche of burning volcanic material over the San Miguel Los Lotes community in the south of the country.
Guatemala made its bid for TPS after Washington recently announced it was cancelling the benefit for El Salvador and Honduras as of 2019 and 2020, respectively.
TPS, which grants temporary residence and work benefits to immigrants, was granted to Salvadorans after two earthquakes that devastated much of the country in January and February 2001. Honduras has had it for years after a hurricane.
The Guatemalan National Migrant Assistance Council estimates that about 1.5 million Guatemalans live in the United States and only between 300,000 and 400,000 have legal residence.
GUATEMALA CITY, June 18, 2018 (News Wires) - A 5.6 magnitude earthquake shook Guatemala Monday morning, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), but disaster officials said it did not cause any damage, including at the Fuego volcano where recent eruptions have killed 110 people.
Strong shaking was felt but “all is calm,” Guatemala’s disaster agency said in a statement. A Reuters witness said tremors were not felt in the capital Guatemala City.
The epicenter was near the Pacific Coast less than 18.7km from Escuintla, an area at the Fuego volcano’s base that suffered the most deaths and injuries from eruptions of gas and ash that began two weeks ago.
Guatemala said late Sunday that it would end efforts to find nearly 200 people that went missing in the disaster.
The tremor struck at a depth of 100km, according to the USGS.
ALOTENANGO, Guatemala, June 6, 2018 (AFP) -- Nearly 200 people are missing and at least 73 people were killed since Guatemala's Fuego volcano began erupting over the weekend, officials said Wednesday.
Seven communities in already devastated areas were evacuated as the volcano's activity increased, with rescue operations halted.
In the city of Escuintla, near the summit, panicked locals rushed to their cars to escape, causing chaotic traffic.
An AFP photographer witnessed a large plume of ash rise into the sky, prompting an evacuation of everyone authorities could find before the police, the military and rescuers were stood down.
And a total of 192 people remain missing since the weekend eruptions, disaster relief agency chief Sergio Cabanas told reporters.
The search for bodies in mountain villages destroyed by the eruption was progressing slowly, officials said earlier, given the nature of the terrain and the way the volcano released large amounts of boiling mud, rock and ash down the mountain.
"We will continue until we find the last victim, though we do not know how many there are. We will probe the area as many times as necessary," Cabanas told AFP.
However, the prospects of finding any more survivors was poor, he said. "If you are trapped in a pyroclastic flow, it's hard to come out of it alive," he said, adding that people who may have been caught in the flow may never be found. The latest of the 73 victims was a 42-year-old woman who died in hospital having lost both legs and an arm in the eruption.
The previous toll was given as 72. Some 46 people were injured, around half of whom are in serious condition, it said.
The 3,763-metre volcano erupted early Sunday, spewing out towering plumes of ash and a hail of fiery rock fragments with scalding mud.
Authorities said more than 1.7 million people had been affected by the disaster, including more than 3,000 ordered evacuated, many living in shelters in Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango since Sunday's eruption. The speed of the eruption took locals by surprise, and could be explained by it producing pyroclastic flows, sudden emissions of gas and rock fragments, rather than lava, said volcanologist David
Rothery of Britain's Open University. President Jimmy Morales, who has declared three days of national mourning, has visited the disaster zone.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was deeply saddened by the "tragic loss of life and the significant damage caused by the eruption," and said the UN was ready to assist national rescue and relief efforts.