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EVACUATIONS UNDERWAY AFTER SEMERU VOLCANO ERUPTS ON JAVA ISLAND

Region of Concern: Indonesia

Written By Cayla Lee; Edited by Amy McGee

Date: December 4, 2022


Semeru Volcano[1]


Event: On Sunday, December 2, 2022, the Semeru volcano erupted at 0246 on Indonesia’s Java Island. A 15 kilometer cloud of ash spewed into the sky prompting authorities to issue their highest warning for the area before nearly 2,000 people were forced to evacuate. A community volunteer reported that most roads have closed as volcanic ash continues raining. Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Countermeasure (BNBP) said 11 shelters are accommodating 1,979 people and protective masks have been distributed as rescue, search, and evacuation efforts continue. Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) Chief Hendra Gunawan said the area could experience a bigger volume of magma compared to previous eruptions. The Semeru also erupted last year when more than 50 people were killed and thousands were displaced. There have been no casualties or impact to air travel reported.[2]


Significance: There are three major concerns here. First, it is almost certain that a bigger volume of magma from this eruption would force even more residents in the area to evacuate. Damage from the quakes, eruption, and resulting magma could very likely leave roadways unsuitable for travel and many residents displaced. With 8.6 million people residing within 10 kilometers of the volcano, many residents are likely to lose their homes, which would increase the possibility of displacement. Second, it is likely that volcanic ash from the eruption could lead to health risks. This after effect is likely to add more concerns on top of disaster management efforts. Third, the economy will likely experience disruptions as businesses shut down due to a decrease in human capital.


Recommendations: PVMBG should continue monitoring the situation and track the aftereffects of the eruption. If magma volume reaches higher than previous eruptions, evacuation orders should be extended even further. All critical infrastructures, including law enforcement, transportation, medical, and communications, should coordinate efforts in disaster management. Transportation authorities should prepare for influxes of travelers as people evacuate from their residences by allocating more personnel to operate cars and buses for extended hours. Medical providers should also prepare for influxes of patients by extending hours of operation and setting up temporary hospitals in highly impacted areas. BNBP should also request additional aid from global humanitarian organizations. Communication centers should be set up at various points around the site and throughout the area in case over-the-air transmissions become unreliable. Non-emergency phone calls should be limited to increase network space and decrease congestion. The government should purchase critical resources, such as canned food and bottled water, from private companies in the coming weeks and distribute them to shelters and hospitals accordingly.

 

[1]Semeru Volcano” by M Joko Apriyo Putro licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

[2] Indonesia evacuates villagers as volcano erupts on Java island, Reuters, December 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/indonesias-semeru-volcano-erupts-people-warned-stay-away-2022-12-04/

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