Dangerous thick plumes of smoke continued to emerge from areas blanketed by the volcanic ash, while rescuers in hardhats tried to dig through the mud to try and find survivors.

Fresh volcanic activity at Mt Semeru in Indonesia's East Java province forced rescue teams to pull out from some areas.
Fresh volcanic activity at Mt Semeru in Indonesia's East Java province forced rescue teams to pull out from some areas. (Reuters)

An Indonesian volcano has been active again, spewing out hot clouds of ash two days after a powerful eruption killed at least 22 people and left 27 others missing.

Fresh volcanic activity at Mt Semeru in East Java province forced rescue teams to pull out from some areas on Monday.

"There was a small fresh eruption and it could endanger the evacuation teams," said rescue worker Rizal Purnama.

Dangerous thick plumes of smoke continued to emerge from areas blanketed by the volcanic ash, while rescuers in hardhats tried to dig through the mud to try and find survivors — and recover bodies.

Their task was made more difficult as the volcanic debris had started to harden.

Other rescuers helped desperate villagers salvage their belongings from wrecked homes. Some locals lifted mattresses and furniture on their shoulders while others carried goats in their arms.

READ MORE: Indonesia volcano death toll mounts as rescuers search for survivors

Deadly weekend eruption

Mt Semeru had spewed thick columns of ash as high as 12,000 metres (40,000 feet) into the sky in a sudden eruption on Saturday triggered by heavy rain.

Villages and nearby towns were blanketed by tons of volcanic debris.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said 56 people had been hospitalised, mostly with burns. Nearly 3,000 houses and 38 schools were damaged, he said.

Aerial photos showed entire streets filled with grey volcanic ash and mud, which had swallowed many homes and vehicles, including whole trucks.

READ MORE: East Java residents flee as Indonesia's Semeru volcano erupts

Threat of rain

Officials have advised locals not to travel within five kilometres (3.1 miles) of Semeru's crater, as the nearby air is highly polluted and could affect vulnerable groups.

The ash and mud have also polluted the waterways around Mt Semeru, turning them into streams of dark grey sludge.

Rain is forecast for the area, which could further hinder rescue work.

There is also a risk of the rain causing ash sediment to form a new river of hot lava, the country's top volcanologist Surono told a local TV station.

READ MORE: Indonesia's Widodo is found negligent over air pollution

Source: TRTWorld and agencies