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Volcano kills 30 including spirit keeper

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia (AP) - The search continues on the slopes of an Indonesian volcano for victims.

At least 30 people were killed by Tuesday night's eruption including an old man who refused to abandon his ceremonial post as caretaker of Mount Merapi's (meh-RAH'-peez) spirits.

Officials are warning the thousands who fled not to return during the lull in volcanic activity. Some villagers are desperate to check on crops and possessions left behind. In some areas, everything is completely caked with ash that looks like powdery snow.

Experts say Merapi's latest blast has eased pressure that had been building up behind a lava dome perched on the crater. But they warn the dome could still collapse, causing an avalanche of the blistering gas and debris trapped beneath it. Mount Merapi, which translates as "Fire Mountain," has erupted many times over the last 200 years, often with deadly results.


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