Indonesia's Mount Sinabung has erupted several times in the last few days, sending clouds of ash into the sky. Although thousands of people living in nearby villages were evacuated, many refused to leave their homes on the slopes of one of Indonesia's most volatile volcanoes.

Mount Sinabung, one of about 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, has been at the highest alert level for nearly two weeks. The volcano in northern Sumatra has been shooting ash more than 700m (2,300ft) into the air.

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A resident rides his motorcycle in Namanteran village as Mount Sinabung erupts in the backgroundAntara Photo Agency/Reuters
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Men with their faces covered in ash ride on a motorcycle as Mount Sinabung volcano erupts, in Sukandebi villageAntara Photo Agency/Reuters
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A motorcyclist's face is covered by ash spewed by the Mount Sinabung volcanoSutanta Aditya/AFP
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Hot lava flows down from the slope of Mount SinabungSutanta Aditya/AFP
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A lava dome is seen in a vent on Mount SinabungSutanta Aditya/AFP
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Huge clouds of volcanic ash spew from Mount Sinabung as it eruptsYT Haryono/Reuters
Indonesia: Mount Sinabung erupts spewing ash into the skyIBTimes UK

Subur Tambun, who heads the local disaster mitigation agency, said only 10,000 of about 33,000 people living within the main danger zone have moved into tent camps or government buildings a safe distance from the volcano. "The villagers insisted on tending crops," Tambun said. "They are confident of being able to escape a major eruption. All we can do is ask them to leave."

"We have lost our vegetables, but not coffee," said Sapta Sembiring Palawi, a farmer who refuses to leave Gambir village, three miles from the smouldering peak. "Coffee has let us survive and we have to take care of it now."

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Farmers stand on the back of truck as they are transported to their fields near Mount SinabungUlet Ifansasti/Getty Images
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Farmers pause from their work as Mount Sinabung erupts, seen from Tiga Kicat villageUlet Ifansasti/Getty Images
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A woman walks in a village near the erupting Mount SinabungUlet Ifansasti/Getty Images
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Women stand at a washing line in Perteguhan village as Mount Sinabung erupts in the distanceYT Haryono/Reuters

The reluctance of people to leave their homes despite danger is common in the sprawling archipelago nation. It has more volcanoes than any other country and is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes because of its location on the "Ring of Fire" — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and South-east Asia.

More than 150,000 people live along the slopes of Mount Sinabung, taking advantage of its fertile soil to grow oranges, cocoa and coffee.

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Villagers leave their homes after the local government told people who live close to Mount Sinabung to evacuateSutanta Aditya/AFP
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People who fled their homes near Mount Sinabung stay in a shelter in Sukanalu villageUlet Ifansasti/Getty Images
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Villagers rest inside a temporary shelter in Sukanalu village, North SumatraUlet Ifansasti/Getty Images
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A puppy sits in an abandoned village in Karo DistrictUlet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Sinabung has erupted sporadically since 2010, when it caught scientists off guard after being quiet for four centuries. Last year, a powerful explosion heard hundreds of kilometres away destroyed villages around its slopes and killed at least 17 people.