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14 dead as Indonesian volcano erupts

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Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) - Plumes of ash spewed more than a mile into the sky and descended in superheated clouds impossible for those too close to the volcano to escape. By the time the latest eruption ended at Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra, at least 14 people had been killed, a government official told CNN.

The victims, and at least three other injured people, were all found in Sukameriah, a village close to the volcano's crater, disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told CNN.

Local search and rescue teams were scheduled to go on a recovery operation Sunday morning, he said.

Eruptions at Mount Sinabung are becoming common. After about 400 years of minimal volcanic activity there, Sinabung erupted in 2010. It has been spewing gas since September.

The English-language Jakarta Post said while 31 people previously had died from eruption-related illnesses such as depression, asthma and hypertension, Saturday's deaths were the first ones directly attributed to volcanic output.

Last month, intensifying volcanic activity displaced 22,000 people who live nearby.

The evacuees had been moved to temporary camps, and more than half were allowed to return home on Friday.

Saturday's victims lived within a 3-kilometer radius of the volcano. Some were there checking on their homes or were there just to watch the eruptions, Nugroho said.

The government issued the highest level of alert for the latest eruptions.

The newest volcanic activity has forced people to evacuate 16 villages, the Jakarta Post reported.

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