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Indonesian Volcano Causes Chaos, 3 Deaths

A major volcanic eruption on the main Indonesian island of Java has killed at least three people and forced the evacuation of at least 100,000 others.

Mount Kelud erupted late Thursday, sending a cloud of ash 30 kilometers into the atmosphere.

Following a cabinet meeting Friday, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono declared a state of emergency in areas adjacent to Mount Kelud.

"I have spoken with the Governor Sukarwo of East Java, who is currently at the disaster zone. I have also given instructions to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Chief of the National Police - whose members have been deployed to help the refugees - to intensify assistance in the affected zones."

The eruption has dumped a heavy coating of ash and rocks on towns and cities as far as 500 kilometers away, closing schools and businesses, as well as seven airports.

Hadi Rudyatmo, mayor of Surakarta in Central Java, tells VOA that everything is shut down in his city.

"It's all paralyzed. All economic activities, shopping centers, trade centers in Surakarta are closed. Traditional markets are open but not a single individual has come. No transactions have taken place. All activities related to teaching and learning in all schools throughout the area have been suspended through Saturday as well."

Scientists think the worst of the eruptions are over, but several smaller tremors were felt Friday.

Indonesia has around 130 active volcanoes.

Last month, the eruption of Mount Sinabung on Sumatra island killed 16 people, forced thousand to flee and damaged crops.

(Nurhadi Sucahyo contributed to this report from Yogyakarta.)

(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.)