Tanah Datar, W Sumatra (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) urged related authorities to deploy river flow monitoring officers to anticipate future heavy rains that could trigger flash floods and cold lava flows down Mount Marapi's slopes.

Speaking to journalists after meeting with joint disaster response team leaders here, Tuesday, the agency's head, Dwikorita Karnawati, stated that the deployment of river flow monitoring officers has also been recommended, and therefore, needs to be executed immediately.

The officers' duties and functions could not be regarded as "insignificant" because, in fact, their active volcanic river basin monitoring can become part of the early warning systems for mitigation efforts, she remarked.

Hence, their deployment is undoubtedly needed to oversee the real conditions of upstream to downstream flows of the volcanic river basin, Karnawati remarked.

If the river flows suddenly become more powerful, they are able to warn local residents living near the river basin to immediately cease all activities and move to safer areas, she remarked.

As the BMKG warned earlier, moderate to heavy rains could occur until May 22, so precautionary measures are needed to prevent the potential recurrence of flash floods and flows of volcanic debris, she remarked.

Indonesia's Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) recorded 28 channels of upstream flows of Mount Marapi's volcanic debris when the recent catastrophe occurred, she pointed out.

Learning from the recent deadly flash flooding, observation post officers, who actively monitor the volcanic river basin conditions, are permanently needed and not just during the disaster emergency, she stated.

Mount Marapi first erupted on December 3, 2023, at around 2:54 p.m. Western Indonesian Time (WIB). The eruption reportedly left 75 hikers trapped on the slopes of the volcano.

The volcano erupted again on January 6 at around 8:45 p.m. local time.

On Saturday evening (May 11), cold lava flow from Mount Marapi and landslides were recorded in several parts of the districts of Agam and Tanah Datar as well as Padang Panjang City, killing at least 58 people.

According to the West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), the catastrophe also severely damaged numerous houses, buildings, and public facilities.

Several road sections, including the one near Anai Valley's waterfall, were also crippled, resulting in the disruption of mobility of people and goods between Padang and Bukittinggi.

To serve students affected by Mount Marapi's cold lava floods and landslides in several parts of West Sumatra over the weekend, Andalas University has launched an online learning initiative.

Online learning will be effective from May 13 to May 17, Andalas University (Unand) rector Efa Yonnedi announced in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra Province, early this week.

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Translator: M.Riezko BEP, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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