Less than a week after the Indonesian island of Sulawesi was struck by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami, a volcano has erupted, spewing ash 6,000 meters (20,000 feet) into the sky.
It is a potentially dangerous situation that continues to be monitored but at the present moment, it is not life-threatening. Dramatic videos of volcanic eruptions circulating the Internet are feeding into the fear-mongering frenzy that comes with spewing lava and suffocating breathing conditions – the problem is, they’re fake.
Take the video below for example, which has been viewed more than 149,000 times and shared nearly 7,000. The apocalyptic clip shows residents fleeing a suffocating cloud of volcanic ash on cars, bicycles, and by foot. The video itself is real, only it took place in Guatemala back in June during the Mount Fuego eruption, which sent ash nearly 6.4 kilometers (4 miles) into the air, buried villages under a pyroclastic flow of heated ash and volcanic gases, and killed over 100 people.
A second trending video provides an aerial view of miles-long lava flows creeping across a lush countryside spotted with homes. This video is also real, but it was taken in May when Hawaii’s Kilauea relentlessly poured lava for weeks, displacing thousands and causing mass destruction on parts of Hawaii's Big Island.
Nugroho also shared a third video showing Mount Anak Krakatau, which translates to “Child of Krakatau”, erupting as lava pours down the mountainside and into the ocean. Over the last two days, the volcano located in Lampung, Indonesia, has erupted 156 times, spewing ash and incandescent sand. It’s undoubtedly a dramatic scene, but not yet a life-threatening one.
“The condition is safe if it is outside a 2-kilometer [1.2-mile] radius from the crater,” tweeted Nugroho. “Interesting to see the phenomenon of [a] volcano erupting in a safe place.”
Experts aren’t yet sure whether Mount Soputan’s eruption was directly triggered by the earthquake, but local media report a government volcanologist suspects it was. Planes were warned about flying over the volcano while air evacuations have started in the central part of the state, about 940 kilometers (585 miles) from the volcano, whose eruption status was raised from an alert to standby, reports Sky News.