Hundreds of tourists missing after volcano erupts on Indonesian island

Hundreds of foreign tourists are unaccounted for after a volcano erupted on the Indonesian holiday island of Lombok. Many are thought to have defied warnings to stay away from Mount Barujari as it began shooting ash thousands of metres into the air because they wanted to capture pictures of the event. The volcano, a sub peak of the 3,700m high Mount Rinjani, is a popular hiking destination for visitors from neighbouring Bali or the backpacking mecca of the Gili islands. Officials say they believe more than 1,000 tourists were on the mountain at the time, 600 of whom were foreigners.

Some tourists did not want to leave. They wanted to record the eruption of Barujari and in some cases hid from officials. They knew it was dangerous but they still wanted to document the eruption.

Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho

The threat level of the volcano was raised on Tuesday as ash shot into the air, but it remained two steps below the highest level on a four-point scale. The authorities imposed a 3km evacuation around the peak but so far only 260 people have been recorded as leaving the mountain. Many more are believed to have left by unofficial exits, although rescue teams have been dispatched to track down any who are left. Muhammad Rum, a spokesman for the local disaster agency, said all those who had descended were “in good condition and healthy”. He added: “Many of them even videotaped the eruption while enjoying the beauty of the mountain.”