Updated: 02/02/2014 12:35 | By Agence France-Presse

Search on for survivors of Indonesia volcano eruption

Indonesian rescuers will search through thick ash Sunday hoping to find survivors after Mount Sinabung volcano erupted engulfing victims in scorching clouds, killing 14 people including four high-school students. 


Search on for survivors of Indonesia volcano eruption

A resident looks at volcanic ash erupting from Mount Sinabung in Indonesia's Sumatra island on February 1, 2014 - by Chaideer Mahyuddin

The volcano on the western island of Sumatra started erupting in September but on Saturday spewed hot rocks and ash 2,000 metres (16,00 feet) into the air, blanketing the surrounding countryside with grey dust.

About 100 rescuers, including from the military and police, armed with chainsaws and oxygen apparatus will carry out the difficult search through up to 30-centimetre thick ash in Sukameriah village -- just 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) from the volcano's crater, disaster and local officials said.

"We don't know how many people are missing but rescuers today will resume evacuation and look for anyone still trapped," National Disaster Management Agency official Tri Budiarto told AFP.

"They will be wearing facemasks and use chainsaws to cut any fallen branches along the way," he added.

Weather conditions may also affect search operations, officials warned.

"It's cloudy today so we worry that it might rain," Karo district spokesman Robert Peranginangin. "If it rains, the area will be muddy and hard to walk, so we will have to stop search and rescue," he added.

Lethal heat clouds cascaded down the volcano after Saturday's deadly eruption, killing 14 people -- mainly local tourists -- including four high school students on a sightseeing trip.

Three other people are being treated for serious burns at a local hospital.

Officials are also putting up more signs to warn people not to enter the area, officials said.

Sukameriah village is located in the "red zone" around the volcano, where human activities are strictly banned, Budiarto said.

"It's very dangerous and completely out of bounds. But many of the tourists still secretly went to the area to take photographs," he added.

Mount Sinabung is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia that straddle major tectonic fault lines, known as the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The country's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of eruptions in 2010.

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