LUMAJANG – As rescuers comb the ash-covered landscape looking for people after Indonesia’s Mount Semeru erupted earlier this month, volunteers are searching for even more vulnerable survivors: cats, cows and other animals. The disaster killed 48 people, according to the latest toll, and rescuers are still seeking bodies in the mud and rubble.
As deadly ash destroyed villages in East Java’s Lumajang district, at least 767 cows also died, while 648 sheep were killed in sheds and thousands of chickens were buried by the mudflow, according to authorities.
Satria Wardhana, along with a team of 15 volunteers from the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), has so far rescued and treated 76 cows and scores of goats and sheep abandoned by villagers who fled the area. “We only evacuated animals who have owners. For strays, if they are injured, we treat them on the spot,” Wardhana told AFP in Curah Kobokan, the village closest to the volcano.
The team evacuated two goats whose owners died and incinerated goat carcasses to prevent the spread of disease.
“We also… feed animals who survived, like chickens, dogs and cats,” said Wardhana, who works in the disaster rescue division at COP.
Surviving cows, goats, sheep and cats have injuries such as burns on their ears and feet, said COP’s veterinarian Dian Tresno Wikanti.
“Their ears are hairless as they burn easily. Many other animals also suffer from coughing,” she said. “Some of them are also stressed out and there’s a goat that had a miscarriage. These animals are… dehydrated because it’s hot here.”
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