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In this paper, tight bounds on the block error probability of linear block codes over order-q finite fields for the q-ary erasure channel, under maximum-likelihood (ML) decoding, are developed. Upper bounds are obtained for uniform parity-check ensembles, sparse parity-check ensembles, general parity-check ensembles (e.g., Gallager regular nonbinary low-density parity-check ensembles), and for any given linear code with known distance spectrum. The tightness of the upper bounds is confirmed both by the comparison with simple lower bounds and, for Gallager low-density parity-check ensembles, by extensive Monte Carlo simulations. Exploiting the derived bounds, it is shown how already for short blocks and small q>2 sparse ensembles attain block error probabilities close to those of idealized maximum distance separable (MDS) codes, down to low error probabilities, whereas in the same regime binary codes show visible losses with respect to the Singleton bound. Thanks to the accurate performance estimates, the developed bounds can support the design of near-optimum erasure correcting codes with short and moderate lengths.