JOGJAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Juminah was working in the farmhouse when she heard three explosions from the direction of the volcano. Within seconds, hot gas and ash swept down the mountainside through the fields.

''It came suddenly, we had no warning,'' said the 50-year-old Juminah, who escaped without injury. But her husband, Wakijo, 59, who was tending cattle, was scalded by the emissions from Mount Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

Merapi in the local language means fire.

The eruptions Tuesday killed at least 27 people and injured 100 in the Central Java area, said officials at the Jogjakarta rescue center, about 5 miles from the volcano.

Most of the victims were from the mountainside village of Turgo, including Wakijo, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

The eruptions - 20 within 60 minutes - were so furious that laborers in the fields had no time to run to safety, said Atje Purbawinata, head of the Volcanic Observation Office in the tourist town of Jogjakarta.

''I don't know if my husband will live or not,'' Juminah said in tears outside the Sarjito Hospital, where 59 victims were brought.

Doctors said only a few of them were likely to live. Most had extensive burns from the clouds of steam that descended from the volcano after blowing up nearly 3,000 feet in the air.

Among those expected to die was a 3-year-old boy with burns over 90 percent of his body.

Today, authorities evacuated thousands of villagers to safer areas away from the southern slope, where lava burst out of Merapi's ruptured crater and flowed down in four rivers.

With the lava came blankets of ash that drifted as far as Magelang, a town 40 miles away. Ash, dust and sand covered homes, buildings and roads, halting all activities.

The 8,000-foot Merapi has been active throughout the year, but it hasn't had a fatal eruption since 1976, when 28 people were killed and 1,176 people lost their homes.

The volcano's most destructive eruption was in 1672, when about 3,000 people were believed killed.