INDONESIA MOUNT MERAPI KILLS 122

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MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia — Towering clouds of hot ash gushed from the mouth of Indonesia’s deadly volcano Thursday, forcing motorists in cities 20 miles (30 kilometers) away to use their headlights in broad daylight and raising concerns about aviation safety. The death toll climbed to 44. As rocks and ash rained from the sky, soldiers helped load thousands of frightened villagers into trucks for a second day, including those seeking shelter in crowded emergency shelters. Merapi’s more than a dozen powerful blasts and thousands of volcanic tremors and ash bursts since Oct. 26 temporarily shut nearby airports and — in recent days — closed air routes affected by the ash. With no winds early Thursday, white clouds shot a spectacular 20000 feet (6000 meters) into the sky. Gusts later carried the smoke westward, with cities and towns up to 240 kilometers (150 miles) dusted in white power. “I have asked the air transportation authorities to make sure the ash isn’t affecting visibility, ” said state volcanologist Surono, as motorists in the ancient city of Yogyakarta, where one airport is located, navigated dust-choked streets. Officials insisted, however, that a Qantas jetliner forced to make an emergency landing after one of its four engines failed over Batam, an island 800 miles (1400 kilometers) to the west, was unrelated. “There was no connection with Mount Merapi,” said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry. “It was too far from the volcano — the sky ]]>

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