Thousands of Indonesians were evacuated from the slopes of a volcano
yesterday after it erupted for the first time in more than 400 years,
spewing out lava and sending smoke and dust 5,000 feet into the air.


Mount Sinabung, in the north of the island of Sumatra, began
erupting around midnight after rumbling for several days, prompting
some villagers to panic before the mass evacuation got under way.


Authorities took at least 12,000 people from high risk areas on
the slopes of the 8,071-foot volcano to temporary shelters. Local TV
showed women and children wearing face masks in cramped tents.


"This is the first time since 1600 that Sinabung has erupted and
we have little knowledge in terms on its eruptive patterns," said
Surono, head of Indonesia's vulcanology center. The area around the
volcano is largely agricultural.

The eruption has not damaged roads or bridges.