Bali volcano decreases in activity, alert status lowered

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Indonesian authorities have lowered the alert status of Bali's Mount Agung volcano from the highest level and say thousands of people who have fled its slopes for government shelters may return home.

More than 140,000 people fled the area around the mountain after its alert status was raised to the highest level on Sept. 22, indicating an eruption may be imminent.

Energy and natural resources minister Ignasius Jonan said the decision to downgrade Agung's status was made Saturday after scientific indicators showed significant decrease in activity in the past month.

He also said the downgrade means all villagers who evacuated from its slopes could return home as the radius of the volcano's danger zone was also decreased from 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) to 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) from its crater.