Terrified Farmers Flee World's Deadliest Volcano

They have long heard tales of its historic 1815 eruption

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 19, 2011 5:22 PM CDT

(Newser) – A volcanic eruption that kills 90,000 people and casts a shadow around the globe tends to leave an impression. That's why hundreds of Indonesian farmers fled their villages this month when the legendary Mount Tambora began rumbling, the AP reports. Well-versed in stories of its 1815 eruption, which spewed about 400 million tons of sulfuric gases and left a crater 7 miles wide, the villagers refused to come back for days. "It was like a horror story, growing up," says one. "A dragon sleeping inside the crater, that's what we thought."

For most of us, Tambora's historic eruption has been overshadowed by Krakatoa's 1883 blast—because that one was reported worldwide by way of the newly designed telegraph. But modern researchers have found evidence of Tambora's shocking sulfur concentration in Greenland and ruinous effect on French wine crops. Experts don't see Tambora erupting so violently for a long time, but that won't relieve Indonesian farmers—even though most returned home today. "There was no life here," says one of the historic blast. "I know that from my parents."

In this photo taken June 23, 2011, an archaeologist working along the flanks of Mount Tambora shows  unearthed remnants of villages that were buried beneath up to 3 meters of ash.
In this photo taken June 23, 2011, an archaeologist working along the flanks of Mount Tambora shows unearthed remnants of villages that were buried beneath up to 3 meters of ash.   (AP Photo/KOMPAS Images, Fikria Hidayat)
In this Oct. 19, 2010 aerial photo, Mount Tambora's 10 kilometers (more than 7 miles) wide and 1 kilometer (half a mile) deep volcanic crater, created by the April 1815 eruption, is shown.
In this Oct. 19, 2010 aerial photo, Mount Tambora's 10 kilometers (more than 7 miles) wide and 1 kilometer (half a mile) deep volcanic crater, created by the April 1815 eruption, is shown.   (AP Photo/KOMPAS Images, Iwan Setiyawan)
In this June 20, 2011 photo, a team from the Institute for Archaeology conduct excavations in the area of coffee plantations in the hamlet of Tambora on the foot of Mount Tambora in Indonesia.
In this June 20, 2011 photo, a team from the Institute for Archaeology conduct excavations in the area of coffee plantations in the hamlet of Tambora on the foot of Mount Tambora in Indonesia.   (AP Photo/KOMPAS Images, Fikria Hidayat)
In this photo taken June 22, 2011, sulfuric gases from Mount Tambora's crater seep around its caldera area in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
In this photo taken June 22, 2011, sulfuric gases from Mount Tambora's crater seep around its caldera area in West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/KOMPAS Images, Fikria Hidayat)
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