AT least 11 climbers have been killed after a volcano erupted in Indonesia.
Around 75 people were trekking up Mount Marapi when it started spewing boiling ash and smoke almost 10,000ft into the air on Sunday.
Authorities raised the alert to the second-highest level and banned residents from going within 3km of the crater.
A rescue mission was frantically launched and dozens were evacuated from the area, with eight taken to hospital with burn wounds.
But 11 people have been found dead by emergency crews – with at least a further 22 understood to still be missing.
Marapi spewed thick columns of ash as high as 9,800ft in Sunday’s eruption and hot ash clouds spread several kilometres.
Nearby villages and towns were blanketed by volcanic debris.
Marapi has stayed at the third highest of four alert levels since 2011.
It indicates above-normal volcanic activity and prohibits climbers or villagers within 3 kilometers of the peak, Hendra Gunawan, the head of the Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation, said.
Gunawan warned it meant there should be no trekking to the peak as climbers are only allowed below the danger zone, “but sometimes many of them broke the rules to fulfill their satisfaction to climb further.”
Hari Agustian, an official at the local Search and Rescue Agency in Padang, said all of the climbers had registered at two command posts or online through West Sumatras conservation agency before they climbed.
He said others might have taken illegal roads or residents were active in the area.
About 1,400 people live on Marapis slopes in Rubai and Gobah Cumantiang, the nearest villages about 5 to 6 kilometers from the peak.
Marapi has been observed regularly erupting since 2004 with a gap of two to four years, Gunawan said, adding: “Marapi eruptions are always sudden and difficult to detect using equipment because the source is near the surface”.