More than 500 hikers evacuated from Indonesian volcano

Hikers descending from Mount Rinjani arrive at a post in Sembalun, West Nusa Tenggara on Monday, July 30, after an earthquake struck Lombok the previous day. (AFP)
Updated 31 July 2018

More than 500 hikers evacuated from Indonesian volcano

  • Hikers were able to start climbing down on Monday after guides discovered an alternate route that was unaffected by the landslides
  • Helicopters and search teams were deployed to scour the volcano’s slopes and drop food supplies for those stranded on the mountain

MATARAM, Indonesia: More than 500 hikers and their guides have been successfully evacuated from an Indonesian volcano after a deadly earthquake triggered landslides that trapped them on the mountain, officials said Tuesday.
Tons of rock and mud were dislodged on Mount Rinjani in the 6.4-magnitude quake, which struck early Sunday and was followed by scores of aftershocks, blocking the hiking routes that crisscross the mountain.
Some 560 trekkers were originally thought to have been stranded, including citizens from the United States, France, the Netherlands, Thailand and Germany, as well as many other countries, according to search and rescue officials.
“543 hikers have been evacuated — they arrived last night,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
“There are now six people left ... They are all healthy and safe.”
Hikers were able to start climbing down on Monday after guides discovered an alternate route that was unaffected by the landslides.
Most of the trekkers reached the base of the mountain by late Monday evening, according to I Gusti Lanang Wiswananda, a spokesman for Mataram search and rescue agency.
“They were all tired, but in good condition and were checked by our medical teams on the ground upon arrival,” he said.
Wiswananda said one Indonesian hiker died on the mountain and a 30-person rescue team was escorting the six remaining trekkers down from Lake Segara Anak, near Rinjani’s summit.
Hundreds of other hikers managed to get off the mountain on Sunday, according to officials.
At least 16 people were killed in the earthquake across affected areas of Lombok, while hundreds of buildings were destroyed including a health clinic.
The quake created panic on the holiday island and sent locals and tourists running outside their homes and hotels.
Helicopters and search teams were deployed to scour the volcano’s slopes and drop food supplies for those stranded on the mountain.
Some 189 foreign tourists, 173 domestic tourists and 181 porters and guides reached the base of the mountain last night, Sutopo said.
Rising some 3,726 meters (12,224 feet) above sea level, Rinjani is the second-tallest volcano in Indonesia and a favorite among sightseers keen to take in its expansive views.
Hiking trails on the mountain were closed following the quake due to fear of further landslides.
The epicenter of the earthquake was 50 km (30 miles) northeast of Lombok’s main city Mataram, the United States Geological Survey said, far from the main tourist spots on the south and west of the island.
The initial tremor was followed by two strong secondary quakes and more than 100 aftershocks.
More than 220 people suffered serious injuries in the quake, Sutopo said.
A Malaysian was among the dead, with another six citizens injured, the foreign ministry in Kuala Lumpur said.
A total of 5,141 people are staying in temporary shelters and in need of clean water, according to officials.


EU leaders split over $1.2 trillion post-Brexit budget

Updated 18 October 2019

EU leaders split over $1.2 trillion post-Brexit budget

  • Under a proposal prepared by Finland, the next long-term budget should have a financial capacity between 1.03% and 1.08% of the EU GNI, a measure of output
  • After the meeting, some EU leaders and officials described the talks as difficult

BRUSSELS: European Union leaders discussed a new budget plan on Friday that could allow the EU to spend up to 1.1 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) in the 2021-2027 period, but deep divisions among governments may block a deal for months.
Under a proposal prepared by Finland, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, the next long-term budget should have a financial capacity between 1.03% and 1.08% of the EU gross national income (GNI), a measure of output.
That would allow the EU to spend 1 trillion to 1.1 trillion euros for seven years in its first budget after the departure of Britain, one of the top contributors to EU coffers.
After the meeting, some EU leaders and officials described the talks as difficult.
The Finnish document, seen by Reuters, is less ambitious than proposals put forward by the European Commission, the EU executive, which is seeking a budget worth 1.1% of GNI. The EU parliament called for an even bigger budget, 1.3% of GNI.
But the Finnish proposal moves beyond a 1% cap set by Germany, the largest EU economy. And it has displeased most of the 27 EU states, EU officials said, suggesting long negotiations before a compromise can be reached.
Talks on budgets are usually among the most divisive in an EU increasingly prone to quarrels. The member states are deeply split over economic policies, financial reforms and how to handle migrants.

DEEP SPLIT
The Finnish proposal, which cuts spending on farmers and poorer regions, has managed to unite the divided EU leaders in their criticism.
“The text has caused nearly unanimous dissatisfaction,” a diplomat involved in the talks said.
New, expensive policies, such as protecting its borders and increasing social security, have been enacted, but states are reluctant to pay more.
Germany and other Nordic supporters of a smaller budget argue that because of Brexit, they would pay more into the EU even with a 1% cap because they would need to compensate for the loss of Britain.
Eastern and southern states, who benefit from EU funds on poorer regions and agriculture, want a bigger budget and are not happy with Finland’s proposed cuts on these sectors.
Under the proposal, subsidies to poor regions would drop to less than 30% of the budget from 34% now. Aid to farmers would fall to slightly more than 30% from over 35% of the total.
To complicate matters, the new budget should also include rules that would suspend funding to member states with rule-of-law shortcomings, such as limits on media freedom or curbs on the independence of judges.
This is irking states like Poland and Hungary, which Brussels has accused of breaches in the rule of law after judiciary and media reforms adopted by their right-wing governments.
Friday’s meeting was not supposed to find a compromise, but divisions are so deep that many officials fear a deal may not be reached by a self-imposed December deadline. A later deal would delay the launch of spending programs.
The Finns remained confident, however, and insist their suggested spending range would eventually be backed by EU states. “The fact that almost everybody is against our text shows we have put forward a fair proposal,” one diplomat said.