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SHAKE AND BLOW
New Indonesian volcanic eruption halts search
by Staff Writers
Karo, Indonesia (AFP) Feb 03, 2014


Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano spews ash amid explosions
Quito (AFP) Feb 03, 2014 - A series of explosions rocked Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano, spewing columns of ash into the air that reached as far as Quito.

Ash fall from the plumes was reported up to 130 kilometers (80 miles) north in the Ecuadoran capital, authorities said.

"There were five explosions of a moderate to large size, which sounded like heavy gunfire for several miles," director of the Geophysical Institute Mario Ruiz told the Gama TV channel.

Tungurahua, which in the Quechua language means "throat of fire," has been erupting since 1999.

Located in central Tungurahua province, it came rumbling to life again on Saturday, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of people from nearby villages.

Wind currents were carrying the ash in a northerly direction on Monday, but on Sunday ash fell as far south as the province of Loja, which borders Peru.

"Most volcanic ash is suspended in the atmosphere south of Quito," the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology said on Twitter Monday, as the country's Emergency Operations Committee met.

Ash fall was reported in multiple Tungurahua towns, security service ECU-911 said on its Twitter account, adding that seismic activity was "high."

Authorities have not reported any casualties or damage.

Authorities declared an emergency in high-risk areas in Tungurahua and Chimborazo provinces after Saturday's "significant activity."

Multiple villages are located in the vicinity of the volcano, which stands at 5,029 meters (16,500 feet).

The volcano took its greatest toll in 2006, when a Chimborazo village was destroyed by lava, killing six people.

A volcano in western Indonesia that killed 15 people in a weekend eruption shot hot ash and rocks high into the air again Monday, halting a search for any more victims.

Before they stopped their search, a rescue team found the charred wreckage of motorcycles buried under ash which they believe had been carrying some of those killed by Mount Sinabung's eruption on Saturday.

The weekend eruption was the first to claim any lives since Sinabung on Sumatra island rumbled back to life in September after lying dormant for several years, and sent vast clouds cascading down its slopes.

On Monday Sinabung, which often erupts numerous times a day, spewed clouds of hot ash and rocks up to 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) into the air, the national disaster agency said.

"For the safety of the rescuers we decided to temporarily halt the search operation at midday," local rescue agency chief Rochmali, who goes by one name, told AFP. There were no reports of new casualties from the latest eruption.

He added that rescuers had yet to see any signs of life during their search on Monday and did not believe anyone else was still missing.

However he said the team had found the wreckage of eight motorbikes believed to have been carrying 14 of those killed in Saturday's eruption.

The bikes were inside the five-kilometre (three-mile) danger zone, an area decreed by the authorities that was supposed to be off-limits, he added.

Rochmali said officials were considering a permanent halt to the search and would decide later Monday.

The weekend eruption blanketed the countryside surrounding the volcano with grey ash.

Most of the victims -- who were mainly local tourists and included four high-school students -- died instantly when they were cloaked in clouds of hot gas and ash.

Sinabung is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a belt of seismic activity running around the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

The country's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of eruptions in 2010.

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SHAKE AND BLOW
Fears death toll could rise in Indonesia volcano eruption
Karo, Indonesia (AFP) Feb 02, 2014
Indonesian officials searched through thick ash for bodies Sunday after Mount Sinabung volcano erupted, killing at least 15 people, with the only sign of life an ownerless mobile phone ringing inside an abandoned bag. Dark, searing clouds engulfed victims during the eruption on Saturday, leaving rescuers with little hope of finding survivors as they searched through ash up to 30 centimetres ... read more


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