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MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's most volatile volcano erupted Tuesday, after scientists warned that pressure building beneath its dome could trigger the most powerful eruption in years. A 2-month old baby reportedly died as panicked villagers fled the area.
Up to 20 people were injured by hot ash spewed from Mount Merapi, said an AP reporter who witnessed them being taken away for treatment.
Some 11,400 villagers who live on the 9,737-foot (2,968-metre) -high mountain were urged to evacuate, but only those within four miles (seven kilometers) of the crater were forced by authorities to do so. Most of those who fled were the elderly and children. Some adults said they decided to stay to tend to homes and farms on the fertile slopes.
There are fears that the current activity could foreshadow a much more destructive explosion in the coming weeks or months, though it is possible, too, that the volcano will settle back down after a slow, long period of letting off steam.
As they contended with the volcano, Indonesian officials were also trying to assess the impact of Monday's 7.7-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, about 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) from Merapi. The temblor caused a tsunami that left hundreds dead or missing on a string of remote islands.
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