A group of campers witnessed a huge volcanic eruption on when they were cooking breakfast at the foot of Mount Merapi in Central Java, Indonesia.

Shopan Pangestu, who filmed the dramatic event as it happened last Friday, posted a video on Instagram which showed a huge plume of thick smoke emerging from the volcano and rising into the blue sky just a short distance away from the campers.

Mr Pangestu told Reuters in an email that he and his friends at first heard 'rumbling' sounds and a 'roar', and moments later saw thick plumes of smoke rising from atop the volcano.

In the video he could be heard reacting to the eruption and saying ''I seek forgiveness from god"; as he watched ash and debris being spewed in the air.

He said he was frightened and worried for his friend who had climbed to the peak of the mountain.

The group of campers, friends from local universities, rushed back to the base camp, packed their belongings, and prepared to leave.

Mr Pangestu said his friends came down from the top of the mountain feeling grateful to have survived the eruption.

A disaster mitigation agency spokesperson said that all 120 people who had been hiking up Merapi were safe.

Indonesian authorities ordered people living near the volcano to leave their homes after its eruption spewed steam and ash to as high as 5,500 metres into the air.

The airport in Yogyakarta, the nearest big city to the volcano, shut because of the threat from the ash, the state-owned aviation agency AirNav said in a statement.

The disaster agency described Merapi's latest eruption as phreatic, which means magma heats up ground water and vapour is released under pressure.