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Volcano quiet for 400 years erupts in Indonesia

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 2:42 p.m. HST, Aug 29, 2010

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A volcano in western Indonesia spewed hot lava and sand high into the sky early Sunday in its first eruption in 400 years.

Government volcanologist Surono, who uses only one name, said Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province started rumbling a few days ago and the minor morning eruption has mostly stopped.

It sent sand and ash up to a mile (1.5 kilometers) high but lava only moved near the crater. It caused no major damage "but only dust covered plants and trees," he said.

He said Mount Sinabung last erupted in 1600, so observers don't know the volcano's eruption pattern and are monitoring it closely for more activity.

Evacuations on the volcano's slopes started Friday at the first signs of activity. Up to 10,000 people who fled are staying in government buildings, houses of worship and other evacuation centers in two nearby towns.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is on the so-called "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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