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Hundreds brought down from slopes of erupting volcano in Indonesia

Mount Barujari, located inside Mount Rinjani volcano, is seen erupting from Bayan district, North Lombok, Indonesia in this September 27, 2016 photo taken by Antara Foto. Picture taken September 27, 2016. Antara Foto/Santanu Bendesa/via REUTERS

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Hundreds of climbers have been brought down safely from the slopes of an Indonesian volcano that erupted this week, the disaster agency said on Thursday, although the fate of several daredevil tourists who declined to leave was not clear.

More than 1,000 tourists including 639 foreigners were in Mount Rinjani National Park when Barujari, a smaller volcano within Mount Rinjani, began erupting on Tuesday, sending a plume of ash into the sky which fell back to coat vegetation.

“They have all come down now. The Rinjani caldera is now clear,” agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told Reuters via mobile phone text message.

The crater is about 8-10 hours walk from the entrance to the park.

The agency said in a statement on Wednesday several tourists hoping to document the eruption had declined to leave and hidden from rescue workers.

“They knew the dangers,” it said.

Nugroho was not available for comment on their fate on Thursday.

Mount Rinjani, on the island of Lombok, just to the east of Bali island, is one of Indonesia’s most visited active volcanoes.

Authorities have closed the park gates and told visitors to keep at least three km (two miles) away.

Reporting by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Robert Birsel