MEDAN, Indonesia (AP) — A volcano in western Indonesia erupted on Thursday, unleashing a column of dark volcanic material high into the air weeks after villagers were returning home from an earlier eruption, officials said.
The explosion at Mount Sinabung, located in North Sumatra province, shot black ash 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) into the air, but there were no reports of injuries or damage, said National Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
He said villages, farms and trees around the 2,600-meter (8,530-foot) -high rumbling volcano were covered in thick gray ash, prompting authorities to evacuate more than 3,300 people. Most were from two villages within 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) of the mountain in Karo district.
No lava or debris spewed from the volcano, and nearby towns and villages were not in danger, but authorities warned tourists to stay away from the danger zone located 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the crater, Nugroho said.
Last month, more than 15,000 people were forced to flee when the volcano rumbled to life after being dormant for three years, belching ash and smoke and igniting fires on its slopes.
The volcano's last major eruption in August 2010 killed two people and forced 30,000 others to flee. It caught many scientists off guard because it had been quiet for four centuries.
Mount Sinabung is among more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Department of Transportation is announcing two webinars for the public to weigh in on the agency's next five-year transit plan.
Secretary of Transportation Ann Schneider said Wednesday the online meetings will take place on Oct. 28 and Oct. 29. Each is from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
They will address plans for building or repairing highways, bridges, airports and train routes for 2015 to 2020.
IDOT engineers will host the webinars designed to give residents and businesses a chance to better understand and discuss project priorities.
The webinars are in addition to 16 informational meetings and feedback sessions IDOT hosted earlier this year throughout the state.
Participating in the webinars requires reserving space online.
Online: Multiyear transportation planning: http://tinyurl.com/pwthj5p
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Opponents of gay marriage have rallied outside the Illinois Capitol a day after thousands of supporters rallied for the legislation.
The "Defend Marriage Lobby Day" began Wednesday with a morning prayer service outside the Capitol. Attendees clustered around a large wooden cross that had been placed at the Lincoln statue. Some participants carried pictures of the Holy Family - Jesus, Mary and Joseph - and posters emphasizing their belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
The event included pastors who hope to influence moderate Republicans and socially conservative members of the House Black Caucus.
Same-sex marriage legislation passed the Illinois Senate in February, but gay activists say they're a few votes short in the House.