After more than a century of lying dormant, Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung volcano has awakened.
Located in the Karo Regency of North Sumatra, the volcano began showing signs of life in 2010 and has erupted several times since. On June 2, it began hurling rocks and hot ash into the sky, engulfing entire towns in smog.
More than 10,000 residents have evacuated the area in search of safety — including 8-year-old Ramadinah Milala.
Reuters photographer Beawiharta recently spent time with Milala’s family in the Kuta Tengah village, which lies in the shadow of the volcano. The photos are heartbreaking.
Milala, her brother, mother, and 60-year-old grandmother fled the family’s home in June, leaving behind everything including their cow and pet cat, according to Beawiharta. They entered a temporary camp set up as a refuge for those displaced by the volcano’s eruption at Simpang Empat, about 15 kilometers away.
Beawiharta caught up with the family as they returned to their village in search of work in the aubergine fields.
“If I don’t have money, I go to pick vegetables and sell them at the market, said mother Nurheni Ginting. “I need money to pay for school, for food, for transporation.”
At the camp, “you have to sleep in a big hall full of people,” Ginting said. “Someone is always talking and occasionally there are arguments. At times there’s noisy music playing. It’s impossible to sleep well.”
So while the family was home, they took advantage. Below, Milala is seen with neighbourhood children watching television.
The family intended to return to the camp that evening, but around 3:30 p.m., a familiar rumbling sound descended from the mountain.
They leapt back into the car and sped off, in awe of the devastating danger so close to home.
“As we drove away Ramadinah just sat looking out of the window,” her mother said. “She was quiet and wasn’t talking.”
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