HEROES IN THE HELL

Every day, in the depths of Kawah Ijen in East Java it is consumed the terrible battle between man and nature. Considered heroes by the local people, three hundred miners walk towards the hell, into the mouth of the volcano, to offer their contribution and placate the hunger of lava and blood of the fire Giant.

A feeble light illuminates the path, while the dark tries to swallow their lives. They have a coat of yellow smoke and faces covered to hide their suffering and protect themselves from the fumes of the sulfur mine. It 's a journey into the bowels of the despair.

The protagonists are dressed with rags and their lungs burnt from harmful gases. Only the lucky ones among them wear rubber boots and have gas masks, the others face the violent emissions of sulfur and the steep ascent, equipped only with wet scarves and slippery flip flops.

Every kilo transported to the Valley is weighed and paid 900 rupees / kg. The strongest are able to carry up to 100 kg at a time to earn 90.000 rupees for each descent (about USD 8 per load).

It is a work to the limit of human forces and possibilities. But they are the heroes of the Kawah Ijen and they feed on the dismayed gazes of those who consider them super-men, surrounded by a landscape of innatural beauty.

Every day, a new dawn illuminates the crystal clear lake in the deep end of the crater and every day the miners finish their shift, knowing that others will come after them in the eternal struggle for survival.

Written by Sarah Falchi - Photos by Paolo Castellari

REST AFTER STRAIN
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Image Title: REST AFTER STRAIN

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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THE CAULDRON
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Image Title: THE CAULDRON

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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COLOURED GLOVES
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Image Title: COLOURED GLOVES

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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IN THE MIST
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Image Title: IN THE MIST

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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WEIGHING
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Image Title: WEIGHING

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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GOOD FELLAS
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Image Title: GOOD FELLAS

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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THE EMBERS
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Image Title: THE EMBERS

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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HERO’S INJURY
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Image Title: HERO’S INJURY

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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SHARING STRAIN
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Image Title: SHARING STRAIN

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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QUIET IN THE DARK
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Image Title: QUIET IN THE DARK

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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SMILING
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Image Title: SMILING

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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NEWS COMING
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Image Title: NEWS COMING

Location: JAVA EAST - KAWAH IJEN

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