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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Eight killed as rescue chopper crashes on way to Indonesian volcano site

Police and a rescuer at a path leading to Sileri Crater after it erupted in Dieng, Central Java (AP)
Police and a rescuer at a path leading to Sileri Crater after it erupted in Dieng, Central Java (AP)

A rescue helicopter has crashed while heading to help evacuate residents near an active volcano on Indonesia's main island, killing all eight people on board.

The helicopter crashed about three minutes before arriving at Dieng Plateau, the popular tourist area where Sunday's volcanic eruption injured at least 10 people.

The aircraft reportedly hit a cliff on Butak Mountain in the Temanggung district of Central Java province.

All eight people on board were killed, said Major General Heronimus Guru, deputy operations chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

The bodies were taken to Bhayangkara Hospital in Semarang, the Central Java provincial capital.

Brigadier General Ivan Tito, director of operation and training at the search agency, said the victims were four navy officers and four rescuers.

He said the Indonesian-made Dauphin AS365 helicopter was airworthy.

The Sileri Crater at Dieng Plateau spewed cold lava, mud and ash as high as 164 feet into the sky when it erupted, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

The sudden eruption occurred while about 17 visitors were around the crater. Ten people were injured and were treated in hospital.

Soldiers and police were dispatched and residents and visitors were asked to evacuate in case of further eruptions. A ll visitors to the plateau were evacuated.

The crater appeared to be quieter on Monday.

Sileri is the most active and dangerous among some 10 craters at Dieng Plateau. Its most recent eruption was in 2009, when it unleashed volcanic materials up to 200 metres (656ft) and triggered the creation of three new craters.

Dieng Plateau, in the Central Java district of Banjarnegara, is a popular tourist attraction because of its cool climate and ninth-century Hindu temples.

It sits about 2,000 metres (6,600ft) above sea level.

Some 142 people were reportedly suffocated in 1979 when the volcano spewed gases.

AP

Press Association

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