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04 June, 2006

Strong aftershock shakes Indonesian quake zone as nearby volcano spews lava

BANTUL, Indonesia (AP) -- The Mount Merapi volcano spewed lava and hot clouds Saturday and a strong aftershock hit the region, sending fear rippling through the southern Indonesian area devastated by an earthquake only a week ago.

The mountain's lava dome has swelled in the past week to 330 feet, raising fears that it could collapse, said Subandriyo, a government scientist who uses one name. That could release a highly dangerous pyroclastic flow -- a fast-moving burst of high-temperature gases and rock fragments that burns anything in its path.

More than a thousand aftershocks have hit the region since the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck before dawn May 27, killing at least 6,234 people and injuring 30,000 more. Officials estimate that 135,000 homes were destroyed.

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