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Volcano Spews Smoke, Lava in the Comoros

A volcano has erupted on the main island of the Comoros archipelago in the Indian Ocean, forcing dozens of people to flee their homes, residents said Monday.

The 7,700-foot Mount Karthala began belching lava and smoke Sunday evening, lighting up the sky with orange flames that were visible in many parts of Grand Comore, the largest of the three Comoros islands, said Julie Morim of the Karthala Observatory.

Morim said she flew over the volcano with South African soldiers and saw "a lava lake with a big fountain in the middle." She said there was no danger of the lava flowing over the rim of the crater.

Mount Karthala last erupted in April 2005. No one was killed, but tens of thousands of villagers left their homes.

Moroni, the capital of the Comoros with a population of 50,000, sits at the foot of the western slope of Mount Karthala.

The Comoros, a former French colony with a population of 770,000, lies about 185 miles east of Mozambique and 250 miles west of Madagascar.