An old clip of Mount Sinabung and Guatemala’s volcanic eruptions is circulated erroneously as Mount Merapi


Who Allowed the Climb Amid Mount Merapi’s Alert?
Mount Merapi, an active stratovolcano in Indonesia, stands at approximately 2,891 meters in height. Its beauty magnetizes climbers and tourists. The volcano erupted on Sunday, December 3, 2023, while on alert status level 2. During the incident, 75 climbers were on the mountain. Of them, 52 survived, while 11 lost their lives, and rescuers are still searching for the remaining 12. Questions arise: why were climbers allowed despite the alert status? Apparently, there were no precursory signs of eruption, and the alert level was raised only after the eruption occurred.

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In the 33-second shared video, we see a volcano getting erupted and many people running for their lives. The area is filled with heavy smoke up above the sky, the police vehicle driving through the road away from the disaster. Some people are seen filming this scary incident.

This post is shared with a claim stating that a volcano erupted in Mount Merapi, and why did they allow the climbers and tourists without alerting and warning them. You can view related posts with similar claims here, here, here, and here.

What’s the truth?

After doing a reverse search on the viral video’s keyframes, we found that there are two different visuals in the video discovered that both are old. The first clip was posted on X dated back to February 19, 2018. The images appeared to be from an eruption of Mount Sinabung, another active volcano in Indonesia, according to the post.

The post was in Indonesian which is translated as, “The enormity of the eruption of Mount Sinabung. The column height is up to 5 km accompanied by hot clouds sliding up to 4.9 km. The sound thundered. This is the first time an eruption has been accompanied by a roar since 2014-2018. There were no fatalities. All residents in the red zone have long been evacuated.”

This confirms that the viral post is old and it is being shared as a volcano in December 2023 but it’s from 2018.

Also in the same viral video, the second clip shows a police vehicle driving through the roads where we see the black smoke filled up to the sky in the background. When we analyzed this keyframe using Google reverse image search, it led us to an article published by the Guardian in June 2018.

According to the article, “At least 62 people, including three children, have been killed and nearly 300 injured in the most violent eruption of Guatemala’s Fuego volcano in more than four decades, officials said.”

Again we found the same sensational video on the YouTube channel of Guardian News dated 4 June 2018 titled “People flee as black cloud of volcanic ash towers above them in Guatemala.”

A comparison image of both the screengrab has been attached for the reader’s reference. 

We discovered a Guardian article confirming that the erupted volcano is actually Mount Marapi and not Mount Merapi when we narrowed down our search. The latter is located on the island of Java, while the former is on the island of Sumatra.

Due to the name’s similarity, internet users have misled one another and themselves by spreading false information about Mount Merapi.

It’s evident from everything mentioned above that there are two distinct clips in the widely shared viral video. They are both old. The first video, which dates from 2018, depicts Mount Sinabung’s eruption. The second frame depicts the explosive volcanic eruption of Guatemala in 2018.


We therefore conclude that the claims made in the viral video, according to which the Mount Merapi eruption occurred in December 2023, are not true. The popular video is a compilation of footage from two other terrifying volcanoes, one from Guatemala and one from Mount Sinabung in Indonesia. The two video snippets are older, from 2018.

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