A rescue helicopter crashed into a volcanic eruption in Indonesia’s central Java province on Monday (July 3rd). Eight people aboard the helicopter were killed instantly, the National Search and Rescue Agency said.
Zolhwari Agustianto, spokesman for the rescue agency, told the Jakarta Post that the helicopter was suspected to have crashed after it hit a bulldozer in an area called Kangal in Kandirotu district. The helicopter crashed in Timanjung district, killing four crew members and four rescuers, Major General Hironymus Guru, executive director of the rescue agency, said.
The accident took place shortly after the helicopter left Semarang, the provincial capital of Central Java, at about 4 pm local time (10 am Pacific time). She headed for the Deng Plateau where an active volcanic crater erupted around noon local time. The Celery Crater volcanic crater is a popular tourist spot in the country and many people were trapped around the crater at the time of the eruption of lava and smoke from the active volcano.
The sudden explosion in the volcanic crater was caused by underground gas pressure, said Sutobu Boro Nogroho spokesman for the Disaster Mitigation Agency. The increasing pressure led to the explosion, which sent a mixture of steam, water, ash and mud. “The authorities have asked visitors and residents to leave the area because there is a possibility that the hole will explode for the second time,” Sotobo said.
Nearly 100 rescuers arrived at the scene of the plane crash, said Central Command Chief Inspector Kendro Kirono. The Celery Pit is the most active and dangerous hole in the volcanic Ding Plateau. Six explosions were recorded between 1939 and 2009, according to a local disaster management agency.