Karo, Indonesia (AFP) - Fourteen people, including four schoolchildren, were killed Saturday after they were engulfed in scorching ash clouds spat out by Indonesia's Mount Sinabung in its biggest eruption in recent days, officials said.
Dark, searing clouds rolling down the mountain left apocalyptic scenes of ash-covered bodies scattered by a roadside in Sukameriah village, just 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) from the volcano's crater, an AFP witness who helped with the evacuation said.
Officials fear there could be more fatalities from Saturday's eruptions, but due to the high potential of lethal heat clouds spewing from the mountain, a search and rescue mission has been grounded, officials said.
"We suspect there are more victims but we cannot recover them because the victims are in the path of the hot (ash) clouds," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency.
All 14 bodies have been identified. Four of them were high school students on a sightseeing trip to the volcano on the western island of Sumatra, he added.
"The bodies were in a state where, even though their skin did not peel, their faces were swollen and the tongues were sticking out," an AFP reporter on the ground said.