Death toll rises to 23 after Mount Marapi erupts in Indonesia

More than 50 people were rescued after Sunday's eruption, and 11 confirmed dead Credit: AP

The number of climbers confirmed dead after Indonesia's Mount Marapi volcano erupted on Sunday has risen to 23.

More than 50 climbers were rescued after the initial eruption, while 11 others were initially confirmed dead.

On Monday the volcano spewed a new burst of hot ash as high as 800 metres into the air and temporarily halted search operations.

The bodies of five more climbers have been recovered, and 18 are presumed dead because they were so close to the secondary eruption.

“The rest we want to evacuate are 18 and we expect they are no longer alive. The team will evacuate and take them to the hospital tomorrow or today to be identified,” Edi Mardianto, the deputy police chief in West Sumatra province, said.

The rescuers are contending with bad weather and terrain constraints, as the scouring wind brings heat from the eruptions.

Marapi has stayed at the third highest of four alert levels since 2011, a level indicating above-normal volcanic activity, prohibiting climbers and villagers within three kilometres of the peak, according to Indonesia's Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation.

Rescuers have been transporting the injured to hospitals after the Mount Marapi volcano eruption Credit: AP

Climbers were only allowed below the danger zone, and they had to register at two command posts or online.

But local officials acknowledged many people may have climbed higher than permitted and residents could have been in the area, making the number of people stranded by the eruption impossible to confirm.

Marapi has been active since erupting in January.

It is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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