A 'Terrifying' Eruption, Then a Deadly Crash

8 in rescue helicopter died trying to get to tourists at Indonesia's Sileri Crater
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2017 6:51 AM CDT
8 Die in Volcano Rescue Helicopter Crash
Police officers and a rescuer stand at a path leading to the Sileri Crater after it erupted in Dieng, Central Java, Indonesia, on Sunday, July 2, 2017.   (AP Photo/Dwiana Jati Setiaji)

The Sileri Crater, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, erupted Sunday, but although there were injuries, no one perished as the mountain spewed its lava, ash, and mud up to 165 feet in the air—until, that is, a rescue helicopter was sent in to help those at the site. CNN and the AP report that eight members of the country's emergency services team died when a National Search and Rescue chopper went down while on its way to help out. Injury reports are still murky, with the Antara News state agency saying four tourists at the volcano were hurt during the eruption, while ABC Australia reports at least 10 were injured. The number of visitors at the scene at the time has been listed as being between one and two dozen. "We were all panicking," one sightseer tells the Jakarta Post. "It was terrifying."

The helicopter slammed into a cliff on nearby Mount Butak, just three minutes before it was set to arrive at the Dieng Plateau, the Guardian reports. Four navy officers and four rescue workers died, per an NSR director, who added the Dauphin AS365 made in Indonesia was safe to fly. The Jakarta Globe, which notes the helicopter crashed at around 5pm local time, reports a group of journalists had been on board the helicopter earlier in the day, but they were dropped off at an airport before the chopper headed to the eruption site. The bodies of those who died are said to have been retrieved by their families from a Semarang hospital. The volcano is closed for now to tourists due to the eruption, which Antara says was caused by "gas pressure," per CNN. (There's an Italian supervolcano scientists are keeping a wary eye on.)

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