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Viral volcano video doesn’t show Mount Semeru eruption in Indonesia

A video claiming to show the Mount Semeru eruption is actually photos from a Chilean volcano eruption and Indonesian waterfalls that were edited into a video.
Credit: VERIFY

Indonesia’s Mount Semeru erupted near villages in East Java's Lumajang district on Saturday, Dec. 4, killing at least 34 people by Dec. 7, the Associated Press reported.

More than 100 people were hospitalized after the eruption, and 22 villagers are still reported missing. Thousands of homes and at least 38 schools were damaged, the report said.

Mount Semeru is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, according to the Smithsonian Institute’s Global Volcanism Project.

A video posted by Twitter account @scientists_feed, an account with more than 1,400 followers, claimed to show what the volcanic eruption looked like on Dec. 5. 

The video has more than 357,000 views and 3,000 retweets at the time of publication. The same video was published to Imgur, a photo and video sharing site, and it had more than 128,000 views.


Does the video show the Mount Semeru eruption?



Credit: Screenshot

No, that video does not show the Dec. 4 Mount Semeru eruption. The video is actually an edited compilation of images from a Chilean volcano eruption and waterfalls in Indonesia.


Using InVID, a video verification platform, VERIFY was able to separate the keyframes from the viral video and conduct a reverse image search using RevEye. 

Credit: Screenshot/InVID

VERIFY was able to trace the image to the Calbuco Volcano in Chile, which erupted on April 22, 2015. NASA’s Earth Observatory confirmed the Chilean volcano erupted in 2015.

The base of the video was created using a photo showing the Chilean eruption. The image was also used on the BBC webpage documenting the eruption. The original photo of the plumes of smoke shows a coastline, not a wooded area with waterfalls surrounding the volcano.

The waterfalls seen at the bottom of the video are the Tumpak Sewu waterfalls in Indonesia. The waterfalls were added to the video and can be traced to a waterfall photo used in some tourism publications.

The same video that is going viral was also published to TikTok in June, prior to the Mount Semeru eruption, with the caption: “Please use 2 words to describe this Nature Painting” (translated from Vietnamese using Google Translate), suggesting it was edited.

Satellite imagery from Google Maps also confirms the landscape surrounding the Mount Semeru volcano is not the same as what can be seen in the viral video.

Credit: Google Maps

VERIFY could not confirm the original artist of the doctored video but can confirm it is not from the Mount Semeru eruption.

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