Indonesia Volcanic Eruption Aftermath Video Shows Villages Covered in Ash As 15 Dead

A video filmed from a helicopter shows villages blanketed in ash after the eruption of Mount Semeru in East Java, Indonesia. The volcano erupted on Saturday, throwing plumes of hot ash high into the air and killing over a dozen people.

Officials said on Monday that 15 people had died, 27 people were missing, and 5,205 had been affected by the volcano. An estimated 2,970 houses had been affected, and 38 educational facilities.

The video surveying the ash-covered villages was posted to Instagram by the Communications and Information Agency of Lumajang. The video was filmed on Sunday over the districts of Pronojiwo and Candipuro using a helicopter belonging to the Indonesian Air Force, according to the Instagram post.

On Monday local time people living by the volcano, which with a height of almost 3,700 meters is the highest mountain on the island of Java, were warned to remain vigilant following the eruption, The Guardian reported.

Heavy wind and rain on the island had resulted in search and rescue operations being postponed until the situation became safer. Dozens of people were still missing, rescue worker Rizal Purnama told AFP.

"All evacuation teams have been pulled out ... temporarily because there was a small fresh eruption and it could endanger the evacuation teams," Purnama said.

In another video, a volunteer rescue worker filmed workers from the police and military digging bodies out of the mudflows with their bare hands. This mud was created when heavy rainfalls mixed with lava from the volcano and debris.

indonesia volcano eruption Semeru
Rescuers carry away a body of a victim at Sumber Wuluh village in Lumajang, Indonesia, on December 6, 2021, after the Semeru volcano erupted. JUNI KRISWANTO/AFP via Getty Images

A resident of the village of Kampung Renteng told BBC News that the mudflow had carried away at least ten people. Images from the region show trucks and houses buried in mud, some up to their roofs.

Days of rain and a thunderstorm had eroded the lava dome atop the volcano, which eventually collapsed and triggered the eruption, geological survey center head Eko Budi Lelono told AP News.

Lelono said that flows of gas and lava had traveled as far as 2,624 feet, reaching a nearby river twice on Saturday.

Australia's Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisories said that while ash clouds over East Java had dissipated, the flow of lava from the volcano continued.

Mount Semeru is one of the most active volcanos in Indonesia's "Ring of Fire," a region of heightened seismic activity. Around 75 percent of the world's volcanoes are located in this 24,900-mile-long horseshoe-shaped region. It is also the region where the planet's strongest earthquakes occur.

This is because the Ring of Fire marks the location of several tectonic plates, including the vast Pacific Plate and the smaller Philippine, Juan de Fuca, Cocos, and Nazca plates.

These tectonic plates are "subducting," a process that sees them slip under the continental plates at their boundaries. In addition to this, the Pacific Plate is slipping past the North American Plate creating what are known as transformation faults.

Mount Semeru
Mount Semeru erupts in January 2021. ON December 4 the volcano erupted again blanketing surrounding villages in Indonesia's East Java and killing 14 people. AGUS HARIANTO/GETTY