MOUNT SINABUNG — A rumbling volcano in western Indonesia on Saturday unleashed fresh clouds of searing gas that killed at least 14 people and injured three, only a day after villagers who fled earlier eruptions returned home thinking it was safe, officials said.
The dead included four high school students on a school trip to see the volcano and a local journalist, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. He said that the government on Friday allowed nearly 14,000 people living outside a three-mile danger zone to return home after the volcano's activity decreased.
Mount Sinabung's morning eruption was followed by a more powerful blast that sent lava and pyroclastic flows down southern slopes up to 2.8 miles away, Nugroho said. Television footage showed villages, farms and trees around the 8,530-foot-high volcano covered in thick gray ash.
Authorities were still preventing more than 16,000 villagers living along the path of hot clouds from going back to their homes, but many of them insisted on checking their houses and farms after more than four months of being crammed into temporary shelters. Authorities raised the alert status for Sinabung to the highest level in November.