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Six killed by hot clouds from erupting Indonesian volcano

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JAKARTA — At least six people have been killed by a volcanic eruption in western Indonesia, with fears more could have been trapped by the hot ash.

Three people additionally remain in a critical condition after Mount Sinabung, a highly-active volcano on Sumatra island, unleashed a series of fresh eruptions on Saturday afternoon, disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

“Nine people were struck by the hot clouds. Six died, and three others remain critical with burns,” he said, adding the injured had been taken to hospital.

The victims were all farming within the “red zone” — an area 4 kilometres from Sinabung declared off limits by government authorities for safety reasons — when they were consumed by pyroclastic clouds.

These fast-moving waves of hot gas and rock can reach 700 degrees Celsius as they roar down the sides of the volcano, Mr Sutopo said.

Search and rescue teams were carefully scouring homes and farms in Gamber village, where residents were ordered to evacuate in late 2014 due to the unacceptable risk from lava flows, dense ash and falling volcanic rock.

“It is not known exactly how many people were in Gamber village when the hot clouds descended,” he said, adding emergency crews were wary of the risk of further eruptions.

Many living in temporary shelters had begun moving back to their farms for economic reasons, despite repeated warnings, he said.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced since Sinabung rumbled back to life in 2013 after a period of inactivity.

It periodically erupts spectacularly, sending columns of ash several kilometres into the sky, and sometimes claims lives.

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Sixteen died during a particularly fierce eruption in 2014, and Sinabung remains at the highest alert level.

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.

AFP

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

Agencies

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