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At least 14 Dead as Indonesian Volcano Erupts

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At least 14 people were killed Saturday following a major eruption of an active volcano on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, just a day after thousands of villagers living nearby were allowed to return to their homes.

Authorities say the dead on Mount Sinabung included a school teacher and four students. Officials say they fear the death toll will rise, once lethal heat clouds disperse and rescuers are able to comb through the disaster area.

Mount Sinabung has been erupting for four months, sending lava and deadly gases down its southern slopes.

Since September, authorities had evacuated more than 30,000 people, housing them in tent encampments and nearby schools.

Indonesia's state-controlled Antara news agency said disaster officials on Friday ruled that thousands of villagers living outside a 5-kilometer radius of the crater could return to their homes and farms, because no recent significant volcanic activity had been recorded.



Indonesia, with more than 18,000 islands, has scores of active volcanos. The sprawling archipelago straddles a major volcanic belt known as the "Ring of Fire" that encircles much of the Pacific Ocean.

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