JAKARTA: Deaths from cold lava and flash floods on Indonesia’s Mount Marapi could have been avoided, say experts, who urge residents living on the slopes of Sumatra’s most active volcano to be better prepared against natural disasters.

As well as evacuation routes, they add that weather modification techniques and better land use policies at provincial government level could help mitigate risks brought on partly by overdevelopment and deforestation. 

On Saturday (May 11) evening, heavy floods, triggered by dozens of eruptions over the past five months, swept away tonnes of volcanic ash which had accumulated on the slopes of the mountain to the valleys and rivers below. 

Surges of cold lava, water and rock flowed down multiple sides of the volcano, which takes its name from the local Minang phrase for “Mountain of Fire.”

The floods, which affected virtually all of the two dozen rivers with headwaters on Mount Marapi, were so powerful they knocked down bridges, cut off roads and buried farmlands and residential areas under thick layers of mud and debris.

By Wednesday morning, 58 people were confirmed dead and 35 more were missing due to the flash floods.

Later in the afternoon, Indonesia’s disaster agency chief said the death toll had risen to 67 while some of those missing had been found. 


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