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Bali volcano eruption fears spark exodus of more than 35,000

Staff Writer |
More than 35,000 people have fled a menacing volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, fearing it will erupt for the first time in more than half a century as increasing tremors rattle the region.

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The numbers Sunday from disaster officials are more than double previous estimates and are continuing to rise, they say.

It includes people who left voluntarily as well as those told to evacuate from a 9-12 kilometer (6-8 mile) zone around Mount Agung.

Authorities raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level Friday following a "tremendous increase" in seismic activity. Its last eruption in 1963 killed 1,100 people.

Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, a senior Cabinet minister, said Sunday that the districts surrounding the volcano "must be prepared for the worst."

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has praised the welcoming response of local communities on Bali to the flood of evacuees.

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