TANAH KARO, Indonesia — Thousands of villagers returned to their homes along the ash-covered slopes of an Indonesian volcano that exploded after four centuries of dormancy, even though officials warned they could be putting their lives at risk.
Some said Tuesday they could no longer bear to stay in cramped emergency shelters, while others wanted to get back to their farms.
The first eruption of Mount Sinabung — which caught many scientists off guard — over the weekend was followed by a second, more powerful blast Monday that spewed soot and debris more than a mile into the air, leaving the region on high alert.
Of the 30,000 people who have been evacuated to refugee shelters, mosques and churches, more than 6,000 have packed up their belongings and headed home, said Yeni Hariani Sembiring of the Tanah Karo district information center.
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Amazon deforestation decreases, Brazil says
BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil's government says deforestation in the Amazon is falling significantly and could be the lowest ever when yearly numbers are completed.
The National Institute for Space Research says satellite imagery shows nearly 900 square miles were destroyed in the 12 months through July 31, a 48 percent drop from a year earlier.
The government credits better enforcement of environmental laws for slowing deforestation. But environmental groups contend it is only a temporary lull because of the global financial crisis.