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Indonesia volcano shrouds whole villages in ash

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 @ 11:01 AM Karen Hood

By SARAH DiLORENZO, Associated Press
Source: Yahoo

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia – One of Indonesia’s most active volcanos began erupting Oct. 26 after four years of dormancy.

The plumes of hot ash and lava flows from Mount Merapi chased villagers living on its slopes from their homes. Ever larger eruptions since then have forced evacuees in camps at the bottom of the mountain to move still farther away. So far, more than 100 people have been killed.

With each eruption, gray ash covers everything like a shroud, suffocating flowers in a vase, freezing a living room in time, covering a dead cow. Places abandoned just days ago look as though no one has been there for decades.

As far as 20 miles (30 kilometers) away, the ash has at times blotted out the sun, forcing drivers to use their headlights in the middle of the day.

Scientists initially said the first eruption alleviated pressure under the cone, but now the signs are more ominous: Pressure is building, not dissipating, and the worst could be yet to come.

A volcanologist who has studied Merapi’s patterns for years says he is at a loss to predict its next move: He has never seen the 9,700-foot (3,000-meter) volcano act like this before.

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