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Volcano erupts in Indonesia, forcing thousands to flee

Merapi volcano spews smoke, taken from Umbul Harjo village in Sleman, Yogyakarta on early October 26, 2010.

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October 26, 2010 Jakarta, Indonesia (KATAKAMI / CNN) — The Mount Merapi volcano in Indonesia erupted Tuesday, forcing thousands of nearby residents to flee, the Antara national news agency reported.

Mount Merapi, which looms on the horizon north of the major city of Yogyakarta, is one of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes and lies in one of the world’s most densely populated areas.

Some non-governmental relief agencies were poised to offer immediate help. One of them was World Vision Indonesia, a Christian relief and development agency.

“Right now, our biggest concern is the children,” said Fadli Usman, World Vision Indonesia’s rapid assessment team leader. “Children are always forgotten in the early moments of a disaster like this. My first task will be to assess the needs of the children and their families in the evacuation centers so our team can begin to help them.”

Images on Indonesian TV showed the volcano lighting the sky with a fiery glow and sending thick clouds of gray smoke high into the air. The volcano has a summit elevation of nearly 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).

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