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The provincial governor in Indonesia says at least 34 people have been killed and 22 missing in a volcanic eruption on the island of Sulawesi.
Flowers are placed at a makeshift memorial of Ternate volcano. Photograph: Alvin de Mello/EPA
The provincial governor, Willem Rampangilei, said this figure was based on information from local police.
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Wearing a surgical mask, he announced in a televised address that the death toll had climbed to 34, with 22 others confirmed missing and presumed dead.
A police official told AFP the number of confirmed victims stood at 44, with 23 confirmed dead and 22 still missing.
A policeman stands guard at a local hospital. Photograph: Handout/Reuters
A huge ash cloud released by the eruption last Thursday night blew over hundreds of kilometres away, sweeping up into the air and damaging an aircraft runway as it hit the tourist island of Lombok.
Farms were also smothered with debris, forcing an urgent aerial survey of the mountain as it was covered with about 400,000 cubic metres of ash, the national disaster agency said.
Sulawesi is Indonesia’s most populous island. Photograph: Alvin de Mello/EPA
Jakarta-based volcanologist Sutopo Purwo Nugroho had warned that the eruption could continue for as long as the magma reservoir remained empty.
“So far so good, there has been no further eruption, but we can’t speculate beyond this,” he said on Twitter.