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Indonesia volcano erupts again; kills at least 14

Indonesia Volcano Erupts
MOUNT SINABUNG, Indonesia (AP) -- An Indonesian volcano that has been rumbling for months unleased a major eruption Saturday, killing 14 people just a day after authorities allowed thousands of villagers who had been evacuated to return to its slopes, saying that activity was decreasing, officials said.

Among the dead on Mount Sinabung were a local television journalist and four high-school students and their teacher who were visiting the mountain to see the eruptions up close, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. At least three other people were injured, and authorities feared the death toll would rise.

Sinabung in western Sumatra has been erupting for four months, sending lava and searing gas and rocks rolling down its southern slopes. Authorities had evacuated more than 30,000 people, housing them in cramped tents, schools and public buildings. Many have been desperate to return to check on homes and farms, presenting a dilemma for the government.

On Friday, authorities allowed nearly 14,000 people living outside a five-kilometer (three-mile) danger zone to return home after volcanic activity decreased. Others living close to the peak have been returning to their homes over the past four months despite the dangers.

On Saturday, a series of huge blasts and eruptions thundered from the 2,600-meter (8,530-foot) -high volcano, sending lava and pyroclastic flows up to 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) away, Nugroho said. Television footage showed villages, farms and trees around the volcano covered in thick gray ash.

Following the eruption, all those who had been allowed to return home Friday were ordered back into evacuation centers.

"The death toll is likely to rise as many people are reported still missing and the darkness hampered our rescue efforts," said Lt. Col. Asep Sukarna, who led the operation to retrieve the charred corpses some three kilometers (two miles) from the volcano's peak.

Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Mount Sinabung is among about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia and has sporadically erupted since September.

In 2010, 324 people killed over two months when Indonesia's most volatile volcano, Mount Merapi, roared into life. As now in Sinabung, authorities struggled to keep people away from the mountain. Scientists monitor Merapi, Sinabung and other Indonesian volcanos nonstop, but predicting their activity with any accuracy is all but impossible.

The latest eruptions came just a week after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited displaced villagers in Sinabung and pledged to relocate them away from the mountain. Villagers are attracted to the slopes of volcanoes because the eruptions make for fertile soil.

Sinabung's last major eruption was in August 2010, when it killed two people. Prior to that it had been quite for four centuries.


Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

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1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Eileen February 02 2014 at 10:27 AM

The DYNAMIC earth. It is amazing and dangerous. Donot take any chances. If they say evacuate, for goodness sake get the heck out of there. You can come home when the volcanic activity stops. Be safe out there...

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Vimala Nowlis February 02 2014 at 12:58 PM

Here we go again. The regin and the entire island chain is a volano zone. You live there at Mother Nature's mercy.

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1 reply
emmett Vimala Nowlis February 02 2014 at 3:28 PM

That's probably how the people view it and accept death as the chance they took .

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jstottle February 02 2014 at 12:45 PM

If you think this is bad wait till Krakatoa blows its cork.

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1 reply
jsmith120313 jstottle February 02 2014 at 1:15 PM

Or Yellowstone which is overdue to erupt and could wipe out 2/3 of the USA in short time. We are only guests on this planet and like 98% of other life that is now extinct humans too will someday be extinct. Thats why I say enjoy life, stop worrying about global warming and have fun!!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Jack February 02 2014 at 7:40 AM

I'm shocked that a number of high school kids are among the dead. I guess these students and their teachers never studied the deadly unpredictability of volcanoes. Note to self: "When the volcano is rumbling & smoking, stay away!" Depending upon the severity of the eruption simply staying away might not even save those within 5 - 10 miles. Poison gas, hot ash & smothering ash can travel way far away from the site of the eruption. See the 1980 Mt. St. Helens & the 79A.D. Pompei eruptions for reference.

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2 replies
joethightwad Jack February 02 2014 at 8:46 AM

Avoiding the area is easier said than done. Indonesia has little arable land to support over 100 million people. The dislocated living in cramped tent cities cannot support themselves as refugees from their belongings and the little piece of land that may have been the only possession of value in the family for generations. When the earth is shaking and the pyroclastic is rising, it's not difficult to persuade people to leave. Getting them to stay away for months after the danger seems to have passed is another matter.

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Crafts for Pets Jack February 02 2014 at 9:00 AM

Volcanic activity from ANY volcano should be seriously respected with no 'fooling around' to see how close one can get to see its beauty ... Watch ONLY from a safe distance.

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jakki051 February 02 2014 at 12:19 PM

Was that teacher crazy or what!?! The parents should not have allowed their children to go on this trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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pup274 February 02 2014 at 8:45 AM

Most likely no proof reading done. There seems to be a large increase in volcanic eruptions over the last 10 years. Some scientists beleive that the increased ash and soot pushed up into the ozone layer blocks some of the radiating heat from the sun. Thus is a small drop in temperature. As for those poor people caught by this volcano, what were the government officials thinking? I pray for these victims and all the innocent ones caught in the world's violence.

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3 replies
Crafts for Pets February 02 2014 at 8:53 AM

I can NEVER understand WHY anyone would build on the slope of a volcano...SPECIALLY an active one ! That, alone, boggles my mind. Lesson: Watch it ONLY from a SAFE DISTANCE with NO exceptions.

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2 replies
Crafts for Pets Crafts for Pets February 02 2014 at 9:03 AM

And be ready to FLEE at a moment's notice ... if & when necessary, even from that 'safe' distance.

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1 reply
Bill Crafts for Pets February 02 2014 at 10:00 AM

That's one place to live where they hope that the Real Estate DOESN"T explode.

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nam2205 Crafts for Pets February 02 2014 at 9:25 AM

Its cheap real estate, and the ground is fertle.,,,,,,LOL

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alfredschrader February 02 2014 at 11:48 AM

If you plant vegetables into plain sand, they wont produce a harvest. They need potassium, and phosphorous as fertilizer. Amazingly, volcanoes spew potassium and phosphorous. Plant tissues are made of postassium and phosphorous. Our own body tissues are made of potassium and phosphorous. In a way, the Earth is literally giving us life.

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wmvveen February 02 2014 at 9:06 AM

considering the fact that the lava and pyroclastic flows stayed within the 5 km radius the authorities declared as the danger zone, their estimate was surprisingly accurate. The victims fell within the danger zone. In a country with a population density of 10 times of the US and with 130 active volcanoes "ashes to ashes" is hard to avoid. They simply have to live in dangerous areas and if these have very fertile soil, they will do so.
Although i consider myself a spelling nazi in my native language, i am more lenient towards people who make errors in a language foreign to them, as is the case in this article from an indonesian.

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Bill February 02 2014 at 9:57 AM

I am glad that my Federally-mandated twisty light bulbs will counteract the volcano's effects.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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