By Bilal Kuchay
These eerie images show Indonesian villages completely covered in layers of thick ash and dust in the aftermath of a giant volcanic eruption.
From a car to fields covered in ash, crumbling houses, abandoned vehicles and household items, Indonesian photographer Albert Ivan Damanik has documented the devastation left behind by the Volcano Sinabung in North Sumatra in the last four years.
The 2460 meter high volcano that had been dormant for 400 years first erupted in August 2010 and has since been one of the most active volcanoes in the country.
“It has been four years since I started capturing the images and videos of the giant volcanic eruption and its aftermath.
“I have witnessed how the villages once inhabited with thousands of people suddenly turned into ghost villages.
“This journey of documenting how nature changes people’s lives has been incredible,’ said Daminik.
The volcano again erupted in May 23rd forcing more than 30,000 villagers to evacuate.
Daminik, who also captured the jaw-dropping moment the volcano erupted and spewed a plume of deadly ash into the sky, called it a phenomenal experience.
“It was a weird feeling. I was documenting it, oozing out lava and rocks. It was suffocating yet I did not feel fear for once.”
People from Guru Kinayan, Simacem, Bekerah , Gamber, Berastepu, Kuta Gugung, and Sibintun, were evacuated after a 4.3 mile area around the volcano was declared too dangerous to inhabit.
They were shifted to government provided shelters or in the houses of their relatives living in other parts of the country.
However, many residents defied the warnings and returned to their villages, either to work in their fields or to look after their houses.
“We lost everything that we had. Our house, the crops and whatever resources we had.
“But we returned back to our village last year as government didn’t help us in earning a livelihood or with a proper home to live in.
“We know it is dangerous to live here but we don’t have options. At least we can work here and can look after our property. The house was in complete shambles,” said 42-year-old Anto Sembiring.
Another farmer, 70-year-old Ukur Ketaren said she left the government provided shelter in order to work in her fields.
“I was missing my home, my land while living in the camp. I came back to my village so that i can work in my fields, I can harvest coffee,” said Ukur.
Indonesia has more than 400 volcanoes, of which at least 129 are active and 65 are designated dangerous, including Mount Sinabung.