Mount Merapi: A deadly volcano in Indonesia spewed another searing cloud of ash down its slopes yesterday, prompting panic and chaos among thousands of villagers who had taken advantage of a lull in activity to rush home and check on their livestock.

Sirens and loudspeakers blared, and panicked people jumped into rivers trying to escape the searing heat, while others sprinted down the mountain or sped off in cars and trucks, local disaster official Rusdiyanto said. The three-minute blast sent hot grey ash tumbling down the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Merapi for about four kilometres, said Subandrio, an official with the volcano's monitoring agency.

The volcano killed 38 people in the past week.