Thousands return to homes along the slopes of Indonesia's fiery volcano

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia (AP) - Thousands of villagers are returning to homes along the slopes of Indonesia's most volatile volcano.

The government says areas well away from the crater no longer pose a danger.

A village chief says people are arriving from crowded emergency shelters by truck, car and motorcycle to find everything they had is gone. Houses are covered in thick ash and crops can no longer be harvested.

Mount Merapi roared back to life on Oct. 26, killing more than 259 people in a series of powerful eruptions. But activity has dropped sharply in recent days.

The government responded by reducing the "danger zone" - which has been at 12 miles for more than a week - to 6 miles from the crater in some areas.