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8 killed in helicopter crash as volcano erupts

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – A rescue helicopter crashed while heading to help evacuate residents near an active volcano on Indonesia’s main island, killing all eight people on board, officials said Monday.

The helicopter crashed about three minutes before arriving at Dieng Plateau, the popular tourist area where the volcanic eruption Sunday 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 Maj. Gen. Heronimus Guru, deputy operations chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency. He told The Associated Press, “We are now at the Bhayangkara Hospital in Semarang,” the Central Java provincial capital where the victims’ bodies were taken.

Brig. Gen. Ivan Tito, director of operation and training at the search agency, told TVOne station in a live interview from Temanggung, that the victims were four navy officers and four rescuers. He also said the Indonesian-made Dauphin AS365 helicopter was airworthy.

The Sileri Crater at Dieng Plateau spewed cold lava, mud and ash as high as 50 meters (164 feet) into the sky when it erupted Sunday morning, 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 at a hospital.

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