JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A volatile volcano in northern Indonesia erupted Sunday, spewing smoke and ash that caused muddy rain to fall in nearby villages, an official said.

Mount Lokon in North Sulawesi province rumbled as heavy rain fell around its cloud-covered crater, local monitoring official Farid Ruskanda Bina said.

He said the sound was heard 5 kilometers (3 miles) away but the height of the eruption was not visible.

The ash made the rain thick and muddy in six villages, Bina said.

"Soldiers are distributing masks to the villagers," he said.

There was no plan for evacuations because the nearest villages are beyond the danger area, he said.

More than 33,000 people live along the fertile slopes of the 5,741-foot (1,750-meter) mountain.

Mount Lokon is one of about 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia. Its last major eruption in 1991 killed a Swiss hiker and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

Indonesia, an archipelago of 240 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanoes because it sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a horseshoe-shaped series of fault lines.

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