A volcano has erupted in Indonesia, killing six. Mount Rokatenda has shown increased volcanic activity since October last year, with authorities banning people from coming within 3 kilometers (2 miles) of its crater.
Rokatenda, on the island of Palue, sent huge clouds of ash 2 kilometers (about 1 mile) into the air on Saturday said Surono, a vulcanology center head on the island of Java. Like many Indonesians, Surono goes by one name. He told the news agency AFP that rescue efforts had proved difficult "because the area is still very hot."
Searchers found three adults aged between 58 and 69 dead, along with three children aged between 5 and 8, said Johannes Berchmans, the head of the disaster management agency in Sikka district. "They were swept away by hot lava when they were asleep on Punge beach," he told AFP.
The volcano began erupting at 4:27 a.m. Saturday (2027 GMT Friday) and continued for nearly four hours, Surono said. Authorities had previously evacuated nearly 3,000 people from the island because of the volcanic activity, leaving about 8,000 before Saturday's eruption, according to Berchmans.
"Tomorrow our staff will go from area to area to pick up anyone willing to leave the island," Berchmans said.
Part of the Sikka district in East Nusa Tenggara province, Palue sits just north of Flores island in the Indonesian archipelago, which comprises more than 17,000 islands and dozens of active volcanoes atop the major tectonic fault lines known as the "Ring of Fire" between the Pacific and Indian oceans. Indonesia's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of eruptions in 2010.
mkg/mz (AFP, dpa, AP)