Volcanoes force hundreds of thousands to evacuate Bail, Vanuatu

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BALI, Indonesia and WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- An Indonesian disaster official says more than 120,000 people have left the region around the Mount Agung volcano on Bali, fearing it will soon erupt.

Nyoman Parwata, an official at the disaster mitigation agency's command post in Bali, said Thursday the number of evacuees has swelled to about 122,500.

The volcano has been at its highest alert level since Friday, sparking a massive exodus of villagers.

An exclusion zone around the mountain extends as far as 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the crater in places but officials say people farther from the volcano are also leaving.

Agung last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,100 people, and remained active for about a year.

Meanwhile, Vanuatu officials have ordered the complete evacuation of an island where a rumbling, belching volcano is threatening to blow.

Government spokesman Hilaire Bule says ministers met Thursday and decided they couldn't risk people's lives and so ordered the compulsory evacuation of Ambae island, which is home to about 11,000 people.

Officials last weekend raised the activity measure of the Manaro volcano to Level 4 and on Monday declared an emergency. At first, they relocated people close to the volcano to other parts of the island.

Bule says the evacuation will continue through Oct. 6 and residents will be moved onto nearby islands. Officials are setting up two sites on Pentecost Island, he says, where evacuees will be housed in government buildings or in temporary camp sites.

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