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Rescuers find body of final missing climber after volcanic eruption

Mount Marapi spews volcanic ash from its crater in Agam, West Sumatra (Ardhy Fernando/AP)
Mount Marapi spews volcanic ash from its crater in Agam, West Sumatra (Ardhy Fernando/AP)

Rescuers have recovered the body of the final missing climber after an Indonesian volcano eruption, taking the death toll to 23.

West Sumatra police chief Suharyono said the dead climber was found early on Wednesday, close to where Mount Marapi erupted on Sunday.

It is believed 75 climbers were on the 2,900 metre mountain, with 52 rescued after the initial eruption.

Abdul Malik, chief of the Padang Search and Rescue Agency, said fresh eruptions on Monday and Tuesday spewed more hot ash as high as 800 metres into the air, reducing visibility and temporarily halting search and recovery operations.

Indonesia Volcano Eruption
Rescuers carry a victim of the eruption (Ardhy Fernando/AP)

According to Indonesia’s Centre for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation, Marapi has stayed at the third highest of four alert levels since 2011, indicating above-normal volcanic activity under which climbers and villagers must stay more than 1.8 miles from the peak.

Climbers were only allowed below the danger zone and had to register at two command posts or online, but local officials acknowledge many people may have climbed higher than permitted.

Marapi spewed thick columns of ash as high as 3,000 metres in Sunday’s eruption, and hot ash clouds spread for several kilometres (miles).

Nearby villages and towns were blanketed by tons of volcanic debris that blocked sunlight, and authorities recommended that people wear masks to protect themselves from the ash.

Marapi is known for sudden eruptions that are difficult to predict because the source is shallow and near the peak, and its eruptions are not caused by a deep movement of magma, which sets off tremors that register on seismic monitors.

The volcano has been active since a January eruption that caused no casualties.