13 tourists missing after eruption of Mount Barujari (Rinjani), Indonesia


Head of Emergency Unit of the West Nusa Tenggara Province, Agung Pramuja, said Saturday, October 1, 2016 that a total of 13 tourists, including foreigners, who were visiting Mount Barujari in central Indonesia when it erupted earlier in the week have still not returned.

Barujari erupted at 07:45 UTC on Tuesday, September 27, 2016, spewing ash 2 000 m (6 560 feet) above the crater, 5 726 m (18 790 feet) above sea level.

YouTube video

Video courtesy of Hairul Muttakin

Authorities have immediately established a 3 km (1.8 miles) exclusion zone around the crater and evacuated more than 1 000 people. As of early Wednesday, September 28, they were still searching for 389 tourists (out of 400 registered to climb the mountain). As of Saturday, October 1, 13 tourists were still unaccounted for.

Mount Rinjani observation post reported ash from Barujari's eruption drifted to the southwestern areas, including North Lombok and Mataram. Farms and trees around the volcano were coated in a thin layer of gray ash but nearby towns and villages were not in danger and there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Local authorities have prepared more than 300 000 masks for the people living near the volcano and urged everybody to remain alert. 

"A total of 1 023 foreign holiday makers and 56 domestic visitors were visiting the volcano when the eruption took place," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the national disaster agency.

"Scores of holidaymakers are reluctant to leave the zones. They knew it is dangerous but they insisted on staying as they wanted to film the eruption," Sutopo added. 

Mount Barujari is a post-caldera cone located within the caldera of Mount Rinjani.

Historical eruptions of Mount Rinjani dating back to 1847 have been restricted to Barujari cone and consist of moderate explosive activity and occasional lava flows that have entered Segara Anak lake.

Rinjani and the global cooling of 1258/59

It is interesting to note that a massive eruption, possibly the biggest of the past 7 000 years, is now believed to have taken place at the Mount Rinjani Volcanic Complex in the summer of 1257. Based on a robust body of evidence, this massive eruption is considered to be the cause of an episode of global cooling in 1258 and 1259 and dramatic weather shifts around the world, recorded for years afterward.

Researchers knew that a massive volcanic eruption took place somewhere in the world around that time, but they didn't know where and where. A study, published on September 30, 2013, provided answers and showed that the source of this massive eruption was Mount Rinjani.

"Based on ice core archives of sulfate and tephra deposition, one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the historic period and of the past 7 000 years occurred in A.D. 1257. However the source of this 'mystery eruption' remained unknown," scientists led by Frack Lavigne of the University of Paris said.

"Drawing on a robust body of new evidence from radiocarbon dates, tephra geochemistry, stratigraphic data, a medieval chronicle, this study argues that the source of this eruption is Samalas volcano, part of the Mount Rinjani Volcanic Complex on Lombok Island, Indonesia. These results solve a conundrum that has puzzled glaciologists, volcanologists, and climatologists for more than three decades." 

The researchers added that a perfectly preserved city, Pompeii of the Far East, might be located somewhere near the volcano.

Featured image: Eruption of Mount Barujari on September 27, 2016. Credit: Hairul Muttakin


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