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Wednesday September 6, 2006

Indonesia raises alert level at smoking Mount Bromo volcano


JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP): Indonesia has raised the alert level at a smoking volcano on Java island, and is urging villagers and tourists to stay off the mountain's slopes, the government said Wednesday. 

Mount Bromo typically erupts once a year, but it does not send debris or lava far down its slopes and nearby towns and villages were in no danger, government volcanologist Suryono told el-Shinta radio station. 

Bromo was placed at the second-highest alert level on Tuesday, meaning an eruption may occur within one or two weeks, said Suryono, who goes by a single name. 

"The mountain is showing signs of mischief and the smell of sulfur is very strong,'' said Suryono, urging hikers and villagers not to visit the crater. "It never erupts dramatically, but the danger here is people get very close to the crate,'' he said. The 2,329-meter-high (7,641-foot-high) mountain is one of Java's most popular tourist attractions. 

Villagers often trek to the crater to leave offerings at the peak. 

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire,'' an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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