JAKARTA – At least 14 people were killed Saturday when a volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra spewed lava and hot gas, an aid worker and an official said.
“It is likely we’ll find more victims,” Benny Kaban, a local Protestant minister and aid worker, said by telephone.
Most of the 14 victims died in a village less than 1.85 miles from the peak of Mount Sinabung, said Asren Nasution, head of the local disaster management agency.
“They should not have been in that area,” he said. “It has been off-limits to residents.”
The government last month extended the exclusion zone from 3.1 miles to 4.3 miles, but on Friday the National Disaster Management Agency said residents living in 16 villages farther than 3.1 miles from the peak were allowed to return to their homes after a lull in Sinabung’s activity.
Ulya Ginting, one of the residents who had fled, told Metro TV that he had returned to his mountainside village with his father-in-law and local officials when the volcano belched hot ash and rocks.
“Our house and field have been destroyed, so when officials offered to renovate our house, we came with them to see our village,” said Ginting, whose father-in-law was injured in the eruption.
He said many people were ascending the volcano to check on the condition of their homes and farms and those who had gone before him were unlikely to have survived.
The Disaster Management Agency said rescuers halted the search for more victims as of 7 p.m. because of difficult terrain and fears of more eruptions.
Sinabung, in North Sumatra’s Karo district, has been erupting since September, displacing more than 30,000 people.
The 8,070-foot volcano had been dormant for 400 years before it erupted in August 2010.
The Indonesian archipelago is home to nearly 130 active volcanoes.
Weeks of eruptions by Mount Merapi on Java left more than 350 people dead and 150,000 displaced in 2010.