A Wound in The Earth

John Stanmeyer / VII for TIME

After the flood: Steam rises behind homes and businesses submerged by mud in East Java, Indonesia

On the morning of June 2, 2006, Ahmad Mudakir, a 33-year-old factory worker from Porong, a sleepy district in eastern Java, was in his front yard tinkering with his motorbike. A little after 8 a.m. he felt a rumbling in the ground — worrying, but not wholly unexpected in this seismically fitful corner of Indonesia. What happened next was anything but expected. Mudakir watched as a neighbor, who had been inside eating breakfast, came tumbling into the street. "There was an explosion," Mudakir recalls. "Then the mud started to flow." He gaped in amazement as a geyser of scalding...

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