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New Eruption at Indonesian Volcano

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia -- Indonesia's most dangerous volcano sent searing gas clouds down its scorched flanks Wednesday, while in the country's other disaster zone, tsunami survivors were thinking twice about rebuilding homes along battered coastlines.

The twin disasters, which unfolded simultaneously just over a week ago, have claimed nearly 470 lives and sent tens of thousands fleeing to crowded emergency shelters. They were settling in for the long haul Wednesday, with relief operations expected to take weeks, possibly months.

No casualties were reported in Mount Merapi's latest blast, which spewed hot ash and fiery rocks three miles  down the mountain's largely evacuated slopes at 8:11 a.m.

"This was a big one," said Safari Dwiyono, a state volcanologist, who believes multiple eruptions since the mountain sprang back to life on Oct. 26 has helped ease pressure building up inside the crater.

The government has ordered airlines to circumvent Merapi for safety reasons and two international carriers briefly canceled flights altogether to airports in nearby Yogyakarta and Solo.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 235 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanos because it sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the Pacific.

More than 800 miles west of the volcano, helicopters were delivering aid to the most distant Mentawai islands, where an Oct. 25 tsunami killed 431 people and destroyed hundreds of homes.

There has been talk in recent days about relocating villagers away from vulnerable coastlines.

"I'm all for it," said Regen, who lives on Pagai Utara island and goes by one name. "We're all terrified now, especially at night, and wouldn't mind moving further inland."