Mataram, July 31: More than 500 hikers and their guides have been successfully evacuated from an Indonesian volcano after a deadly earthquake triggered landslides that trapped them on the mountain, officials said today.
Tonnes of rock and mud were dislodged on Mount Rinjani in the 6.4-magnitude quake, which struck early Sunday and was followed by scores of aftershocks, blocking the hiking routes that crisscross the mountain.
An estimated 560 stranded trekkers were thought to have included citizens from the United States, France, the Netherlands, Thailand and Germany, as well as many other countries, according to search and rescue officials.
“543 hikers have been evacuated — they arrived last night,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP.
“There are now six people left… They are all healthy and safe.” Hikers were able to start descending the mountain Monday after guides discovered an alternate route that was unaffected by the landslides.
Most of the trekkers reached the base of the mountain by late Monday evening, according to I Gusti Lanang Wiswananda, a spokesman for Mataram search and rescue agency.
“They were all tired, but in good condition and were checked by our medical teams on the ground upon arrival,” he told AFP.
Hundreds of other hikers managed to get off the mountain on Sunday, according to officials.
At least 16 people were killed in the earthquake across affected areas of Lombok, while hundreds of buildings were destroyed including a health clinic.
The quake created panic on the holiday island and sent locals and tourists running outside their homes and hotels.
Helicopters and search teams were deployed to scour the volcano’s slopes and drop food supplies for those stranded on the mountain.