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Indonesians Flee Dangerous Volcano September 23, 2011
Satellite image of SE Iceland
Satellite image of Mount Tambora taken on March 6. 2009.
Rumblings from Indonesia’s Mount Tambora volcano have prompted a mass evacuation from the mountain’s slopes on the island of Sumbawa.

Farmers and other residents were frightened by some of the strongest volcanic tremors of their lives and stories of the mountain’s famed explosion in 1815, which was the strongest of any volcano in recorded history.

The rumblings have been accompanied by plumes of ash and vapor that have soared 4,600 feet into the sky.

The eruption of April 1815 sent an estimated 36 cubic miles of exploded rock and ash bursting into the atmosphere.

Debris from the eruption colored the sky, tinted rain and snow and blanketed bodies of water around the world.

Approximately 12,000 people died as a direct result of the explosion, the choking rain of ash and fire, and from the tsunamis the eruption generated.

Enough ash was put into the atmosphere to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface, which caused a brief global cooling.

The following year, 1816, went down in history as the “year without a summer.” The diminished sunlight caused crop failures around the planet, resulting in famine across China and later in Ireland. Food was also scare elsewhere, causing prices to rise across Europe. The shortages provoked riots in Britain, France and Germany.

Seismologists say that it would take far more than 200 years for Tambora to build up enough pressure to create another catastrophic eruption.

They have urged residents to return home around the mountain’s flanks, but also to remain alert and follow official advice should the famed volcano become more dangerous.

Photo: NASA