Rescuers find body of last missing hiker from Indonesia’s Mount Marapi volcanic eruption

Rescuers have found the body of the last missing hiker on Indonesia’s Mount Marapi, taking the death toll from Sunday’s volcanic eruption to 23.

The 2,891-metre-tall Marapi volcano in West Sumatra province in Indonesia erupted on Sunday, spewing ash as high as 3km into the sky that rained volcanic debris onto nearby villages.

There were 75 hikers present in the area during the eruption. The majority of them were successfully evacuated and received treatment for burns.

On Tuesday, the search for the 10 missing hikers started again after a temporary halt prompted by safety concerns. Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency announced the recovery of the last body on Wednesday.

Currently, twelve injured victims are undergoing treatment in the hospital.

“The joint search and rescue team has found one victim of the Mount Marapi eruption, who is now in the process of being evacuated,” Abdul Malik, head of the local search and rescue agency said.

The last hiker has been identified as a woman.

Mount Marapi is known as one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia — located within the “Ring of Fire”, a tectonic belt that includes about two-thirds of the world’s total number of volcanoes.

Marapi’s eruption on 3 December was its third this year and the deadliest since 1979.

On Wednesday, after recovering the body of the last missing hiker, authorities “ended the search and rescue operation in Mount Marapi as all the victims had been found by late Wednesday”, Abdul Muhari, the national disaster mitigation agency spokesperson said.

According to the country’s centre for volcanology and geological disaster mitigation, Marapi has been at Indonesia’s second-highest alert level since 2011, indicating above-normal volcanic activity. Under this alert level, climbers and villagers are required to maintain a distance of more than 3km from the peak. However, officials acknowledge that climbers may have climbed into the danger zone – an area that is higher than permitted.

Meanwhile, 52 hikers survived the volcanic eruption on Sunday.

One of the survivors, 24-year-old Tita Cahyan, told Reuters: “I’m scared and I don’t want to do it again.”

Ms Cahyan is currently being treated at a hospital for extensive burns. Her friend, Widya Azhamul Fadhilah, was also with her hiking. “She and I were already hypothermic, our hands and feet were hot and we were shivering violently,” Ms Cahyan said.

Meanwhile, the national search and rescue agency reported that all the bodies had been taken to a hospital for identification by late Wednesday.