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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 June 2006, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
In pictures: Merapi threatens again

Lava on Mt Merapi glows in the early hours of the morning

Volcanic activity has increased at Indonesia's Mt Merapi, which has been threatening a major eruption for several weeks.

The volcano sends clouds of hot ash into the air

On Thursday, it sent a spectacular cloud of hot gas 4.5 km (3 miles) down its southern slope, causing thousands of residents to flee.

Lava flows down the sides of Mt Merapi in the early morning

Lava flows streamed down the mountain and ash clouds appeared throughout the morning.

Volunteers help an elderly woman into a truck to evacuate her from her home near Mt Merapi

At least 15,000 residents are reported to have left the area and the government is stepping up emergency preparations.

A mother and her two children at a refugee camp on 5 June

Many Merapi residents have been staying in refugee camps since the eruptions began, although some have been reluctant to leave their homes.

A father and his two sons watch the smoke rising from Mt Merapi on 4 June

Scientists believe a severe earthquake two weeks ago in nearby Yogyakarta may have destabilised Mt Merapi even further.

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