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Thousands flee as volcano spews lava, ash

Photo: Volcanic ash and smoke spew out of Mount Gamkonora as it erupts in this photo taken Monday on Halmahera island in Indonesia. (Purwanto, Malut Post/AP)

July 12, 2007
JAKARTA — A rumbling volcano in eastern Indonesia spewed ash and lava Thursday, as authorities expressed fears that a shift in winds could send hot clouds of volcanic debris onto villages below.

Thousands of people have been evacuated and others have been told to stay away from the eight-kilometre danger zone along the mountain's slopes, said Saut Simatupang of the government's volcano monitoring agency.

Mount Gamkonora on Halmahera island has put authorities on the highest alert since Monday, and lava and debris have spilled from its mouth for days. Hot clouds of ash were shooting more than 1,000 metres into the sky on Thursday, a slight decrease in activity.

Authorities are worried that potential shifts in wind could send the debris over villages along the western flank of the 1,630-metre peak.

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