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Volcanic Eruption

DANGER ZONE Ash fills the air as Mount Semeru erupts in Indonesia on December 4. HANDOUT/BNPB/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A volcano in Indonesia erupted on December 4. Mount Semeru shot clouds of ash 40,000 feet into the air. Hot gas and lava killed at least 34 people. Others are still missing.

“Trees, farms, houses are scorched, everything is covered in heavy gray ash,” Haryadi Purnomo says. He works for East Java’s search and rescue agency.

Some 3,000 houses and 38 schools were damaged. Thousands of people were evacuated.

Days of rain triggered the eruption. Atop Semeru is a dome of lava. Rain caused it to fall apart. Experts say it could break up even more. That could cause an avalanche.

Semeru has erupted many times in the last 200 years. There were no deaths the last time it erupted, in January.

Indonesia’s government said it would help villagers who lost their homes. They will be moved to a safer place within six months. They’ll be given financial help while they wait.

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