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Indonesia raises alert level at Mount Kelud volcano, orders evacuation of nearly 30,000

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities on Tuesday ordered the evacuation of nearly 30,000 people from the rumbling slopes of Mount Kelud, warning of an imminent eruption from the volcano that killed thousands in 1919.

All people living within six miles of the 5,679-foot peak must evacuate, and authorities began transporting some out of the danger zone, said Surono, a top scientist at the government-run volcanology center who uses only one name.

Kelud has been rumbling for weeks, and it was placed on the highest alert level, meaning scientists believe a major eruption is imminent, according to the center's Web site.

One of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, it last erupted in 1990 and is located on Java island, about 385 miles east of the capital, Jakarta,

During a 1919 eruption, it destroyed about 100 villages and killed 5,160 people.

The volcano's explosive activity typically starts with a steam explosion — when surfacing magma meets ground water. Such eruptions produce hot mud flows, pyroclastic surges and flows.

Evacuation orders at Indonesian volcanoes are often haphazardly enforced. Without compensating farmers for loses to crops or livestock, it is difficult to force them to leave their villages. Another worry for homeowners is thieves targeting empty properties.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire" — a series of volcanoes and fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.