More than 500 hikers evacuated from Indonesian volcano

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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 Tuesday.

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.

Some 560 trekkers were originally thought to have been stranded, including 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 Monday night,” national disaster agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told AFP.

“There are now six people left. They are all healthy and safe.”

Hikers were able to start climbing down on 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 spokesperson 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.

Wiswananda said one Indonesian hiker died on the mountain and a 30 person rescue team was escorting the six remaining trekkers down from Lake Segara Anak, near Rinjani’s summit.

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.

More than 220 people suffered serious injuries in the quake, Sutopo said.

A Malaysian was among the dead, with another six citizens injured, the foreign ministry in Kuala Lumpur said.

A total of 5 141 people are staying in temporary shelters and in need of clean water, according to officials.