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Ecuadorean mountain farmers defy spewing volcano

Ecuador, S.A.

PINGUE, Ecuador (Reuters) - Undeterred by ash and fiery rock spewing from Ecuador's "throat of fire" volcano and predictions of greater activity, peasant farmers worked their corn and potato plots on the mountain on Friday.

"I'm not going to stay with my arms crossed," said Rosa Marino, a diminutive 76-year-old farmer preparing to climb the volcano's slopes to work her plot a few miles (km) from the crater. "All my land is up there and I know God protects me."

Tungurahua, which means "throat of fire" in the native Quichua language, is a volcano 80 miles south of the capital, Quito. It last erupted in August 2006 and has been rumbling and belching up rock, gas and ash this week.

Volcanologists expect stronger activity from Tungurahua because it is in the middle of an eruption cycle that began in 1999 after decades of inactivity.

BURMA - a mud volcano, known as Sai Chung volcano, located on the Sai Chung Island east of Kyawk Phyu town in the Arakan state of western Burma erupted on Saturday, January 5th, at about 11:45 a.m (local time) sending rocks, tongues of fire, lava and smoke up into the air and prompting residents to flee their homes. "Till today the lava is still overflowing. And fearing that there might be more eruption, local villagers are fleeing from the village. Many fled to Sai Kathein, and Sittaw villages and some even fled up to Kyawk Phyu town." There were no human casualties. The eruption of the mud-volcano sent fire flashes, ashes, and lava up to 300 meters into the air. The whole mountain is covered with lava and ashes. "A similar volcano erupted in December 2006. So, the local people are scared that there might be a strong eruption this time."

INDONESIA - Mt. Kelud is demonstrating a new natural phenomenon in its history. On Nov. 2, 2007, at around 16:00 hours, countless shallow and deep volcanic tremors occurred. Over 500 quakes have been recorded since the volcano was placed on full alert status on Oct. 16, 2007. As the hours passed, Kelud's summit remained relatively calm. On Nov. 29, the volcano's alert status was lowered again. "No other volcano in Indonesia has ever 'survived' such (a series of) quakes. Mt. Kelud should have exploded." Mt. Kelud has erupted 30 times since 1311, the latest taking place in 1990. The volcano is now in the phase of developing a lava dome. "The lava dome will likely keep growing and change the layers of the mountain's crater lake into a sharp arc. We're monitoring the growth daily." The dome has continued to expand at 8 square meters per second, and now measures 130 meters in diameter, with an area of 700,000 sq m. The lava dome is a new phenomenon for Mt. Kelud. In the 1990 eruption, the volcano developed a lava cap, but this cap did not turn into a swelling lava dome. But based on documents from the Netherlands, such a dome had emerged prior to an eruption in 1919. "The (Dutch) documents reveal that the lava dome, composed of andesite, was blown apart and discharged as rock and gravel in a past eruption, followed by showers of sand." The dome, crushed by magmatic forces, deepened the crater lake, but further specifics are not found in the data. At present, the lake is 38 m deep with a water volume of 2.5 million cubic meters. Once, the lake was reportedly more than 600 m deep with a capacity of 40 million cu m. Kelud's new dome and recent emissions with accompanying tremors and smoke pillar - up to 120 m high - should be taken with extreme caution, as they could be signs of a devastating explosion like that in 1919. "In theory, this volcano is on the verge of erupting. The higher and more massive the dome, the greater its blast impact." Image above: The sun rises in East Java over the mountain range among which stands Mount Kelud. (JP/Indra Harsaputra)
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