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JAKARTA, July 10 (Reuters) - Thousands of Indonesians have been evacuated around Mount Gamkonora in the east of the country after the volcano started sending out huge columns of ash and smoke, officials said on Tuesday.
No casualties or damage have been reported, but the volcano remained a big threat and the highest alert level was in place, said Saut Simatupang, head of Indonesia's Vulcanological Survey.
The official said smoke started emerging from the volcano on Saturday, with ash columns appearing on Monday.
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's Mount Gamkonora has started spitting out flaming rocks and sending showers of sparks into the air, indicating the volcano in the east of the country is likely to erupt, an official said on Wednesday.
Thousands of people living close to the volcano have been evacuated since it started sending out towering columns of ash and smoke on Saturday.Although less smoke and ash were spotted on Wednesday, flaming material started to appear on Tuesday evening, indicating magma was approaching the crater's surface, said Saut Simatupang, head of Indonesia's Vulcanological Survey.
"The volcano spit flaming rock as high as 15 metres... this indicates magma is now close to the crater's surface," Simatupang said by telephone.
The official said an eruption had become more likely.
The 5,364ft volcano, about 1,491 miles east of the capital Jakarta in North Maluku province, is the highest peak on the island of Halmahera.
Thousands of people evacuated from the slopes of a rumbling volcano in eastern Indonesia have been told that they can return home.Last week, an alert was declared around Mt Gamkonora, in North Maluku province, after fire and ash clouds were seen rising hundreds of metres into the air.More than 8,000 villagers were moved to camps away from the mountain amid fears of an eruption.But scientists lowered the alert level after activity at the volcano lessened.
Six teenagers who had been camping on the mountain over the weekend were killed by the poisonous fumes. A doctor who attended to them said the victims, between 14 and 16 years old, died Saturday, most probably from gases emanating from one of the two craters on the volcano.