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People watch as Mt. Sinabung spews pyroclastic smoke in North Sumatra, Indonesia. The number of displaced people has increased to 22,000 in western Indonesia as the volcano continues to erupt.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Clouds of smoke and ash pour down the slopes of Mt. Sinabung near Karo, North Sumatra.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: SUTANTA ADITYA / AFP/Getty Images

A man wears a plastic bag to protect his head after his village of Payung was hit by ash raining from the eruption of Mt. Sinabung.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Panicked villagers try to shield their mouths from falling ash as they flee the eruption of Mt. Sinabung in Indonesia. Officials expect the number of evacuees to rise as volcanic activity remains high.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Mt. Sinabung spews ash and lava during an eruption near from Karo, North Sumatra.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: SUTANTA ADITYA / AFP/Getty Images

A towering cloud of smoke and ash rises above Mt. Sinabung during a violent eruption in Indonesia.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: SUTANTA ADITYA / AFP/Getty Images

Villagers wait for a bus to take them away from Payung, Indonesia, following the eruption of Mt. Sinabung.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Binsar Bakkara / Associated Press

Cats sit in front of an abandoned house covered by ash in Sebintun village, whose residents were evacuated following a violent eruption of Mt. Sinabung.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Villagers ride in the back of a truck to a temporary evacuation center after their village of Payung was hit by ash from the eruption of Mt. Sinabung.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

The village of Payung, Indonesia, is blanketed with ash from the eruption of Mt. Sinabung.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Star trails are seen over Sinabung as it spews volcanic ash during a time exposure as seen from Tiga Pancur in North Sumatra.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Binsar Bakkara / Associated Press

A motorcylist passes an area covered by ash after Sinabung erupted. More than 20,000 people have been displaced as the volcano continues to spew ash and smoke.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Villagers harvest tomatoes at fields covered by ash after another eruption of Sinabung.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Ash from the volcano covers a crop of tomatoes. Indonesian authorities extended a danger zone around Sinabung after it spewed blistering gas farther than expected and covered homes and farms in gray dust.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Two boys use plastic bags to protect their faces from the ash from Sinabung.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Footwear is inundated by ash in the fields. Sinabung also rained rocks and debris.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Villagers make their way on an ash-covered road. Thousands living near the volcano's crater have been evacuated into shelters.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images

Sinabung's eruptions provide a backdrop for a church in Sibintun. Authorities said airlines were notified to avoid routes near the mountain.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Binsar Bakkara / Associated Press

Villagers in Beras Tepu get a front-row seat on Sinabung's pyroclastic show.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Binsar Bakkara / Associated Press

From Jeraya in North Sumatra, the volcano can be seen spewing hot lava. Authorities have extended a danger zone around the volcano.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Binsar Bakkara / Associated Press

Sinabung's eruptions are also visible from Perteguhan in North Sumatra.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Binsar Bakkara / Associated Press

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By the Associated Press

Authorities extended a danger zone around a rumbling volcano in western Indonesia on Sunday after it spewed blistering gas farther than expected, sending panicked residents streaming down the sides of the mountain.

Mt. Sinabung’s booming explosion just after midnight triggered a panicked evacuation. Men with ash-covered faces streamed down the scorched slopes on motorcycles, followed by truckloads of women and children, many crying. Officials barked out orders on bullhorns as rocks and debris rained from the sky.

More than 50 eruptions Saturday sent lava and searing gas tumbling out of the volcano in North Sumatra province down the southeastern slopes up to three miles away, said Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. The volcano was still spitting clouds of gas and lava as high as 13,000 feet in several eruptions Sunday, but no casualties were reported.

Nugroho said that the danger zone southeast of the volcano was extended from three to nearly 4½ miles from the crater’s smoldering mouth.

Soldiers joined the rescue operation in the villages of Jewara and Pintu Besi about four miles from the crater, where homes and farms were caked in gray dust.

More than 20,000 people in villages around the crater have been evacuated into several temporary shelters since authorities raised the alert status for Sinabung to the highest level in November.

“We were tired here … we’ve lost everything. We wonder about our lives after this disaster,” said Anton Sitepu, a father of four who is among the villagers in a cramped shelter in Telagah village.

The 8,530-foot Mt. Sinabung has sporadically erupted since September. An eruption in 2010 killed two people and caught scientists off guard because the volcano had been quiet for four centuries.

Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said airlines were notified to avoid routes near the mountain.

Sinabung is among about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval because of its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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