ACTNews, KARO – The morning at the foot of Sinabung was suddenly becoming chaotic. Panic screams were heard, activities halted. On Monday, at 08.53 AM, from the crater of Mount Sinabung in Karo District, North Sumatera, thick volcanic clouds soared. The peak of its column was the highest ever recorded.
According to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the Public Relation Head of the National Disaster Mitigation Board (BNPB) said that the height of the ash reaches 5.000 meters.
The emission of the volcanic ash made the local Karo residents ran around in panic. Shortly after that, the ash began to rain, covering the sky in darkness. During the afternoon after the eruption, most of the area of the Sinabung foot turned dark. Even though it was midday, it looked almost like a night.
Contacts to our partners in Sinabung were made. A number of volunteers from Indonesia Volunteer Society (MRI) North Sumatera who live in Karo said that darkness covered Karo until Monday (19/2) afternoon.
“We received reports from our fellow MRI friends that, in the afternoon after the eruption, darkness still covered the sky. Volcanic ash rain fell hard in several areas, one of them is in Payung Sub-district, Karo. Not only volcanic ash, but big sharp pebbles also fell from the sky,” said Dani, the Coordinator of MRI-ACT volunteers in Medan City.
While Sinabung was covered in ash, a number of volunteers from MRI North Sumatera from Medan went to the location, travelling for two hours from Medan to Karo regency. On Monday (19/2) afternoon, four additional volunteers from MRI Medan came to Sinabung, bringing surgical masks to be distributed to the villages afflicted by the eruption.
Villages at the foot of Sinabung covered by ash
Whitish grey dominated the scenery of Sinabung. After the eruption, almost all areas around Sinabung turned pale. The spreading ash made it difficult to breathe.
“The ash covered the roads and plants in the gardens, turning everything white. Its grains are sharp, it’s dangerous to inhale them,” said Evin Novlian, a volunteer from MRI North Sumatera who took part in distributing the gas masks.
Since Monday (19/2) afternoon, four volunteers of MRI Medan city and a volunteer from MRI Karo regency reached several worst-afflicted villages.
“Based on our observation, the thickest ash covered the villages located just below the danger zone. In this area, everything is covered in ash. The thickness could reach up to five centimeters,” said Leko, the regional coordinator of MRI Karo regency.
The volunteers distributed the surgical masks for two days. They visited five villages covered in thick ash: Payung Village, Tiganderket Village, Perbaji Village, Kutambelin Village, and Kutambaru Village.
“Since Monday afternoon until Tuesday morning, thick volcanic ash was still covering the ground, roofs and plants. We have distributed around 2.000 surgical masks to five different villages,” concluded Leko.