Six people were killed, swept away by lava after Mount Rokatendo in Indonesia erupted.
Six people were killed, swept away by lava after Mount Rokatendo in Indonesia erupted

Molten lava, hot ash and rocks spewing from Mount Rokatenda in Indonesia have killed at least six people sleeping in a beach village in Indonesia.

Mount Rokatenda on Palue island has erupted, shooting hot ash and lava up to 2,000m in the air. More than 3,000 people have been evacuated from the area.

The victims included three adults and two children who were swept away by lava, an official from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency said. The age of the sixth person killed is unclear and the children's bodies have not yet been recovered from Ponge beach in Rokirole village.

"We have found the bodies of the adults, but we are still looking for the children, and it is difficult because the area is still very hot," said Surono, head of the volcanology centre in Indonesia.

The volcano began erupting at 04:27am (local time) on Friday and continued for nearly four hours, he added.

Rokatenda has been on high alert since October, with authorities banning people from any activities within three kilometres of the crater on the island, which is home to around 7,000 people.

Surono said his staff at the scene reported that the six people had died within the exclusion zone.

It was not clear what the victims had been doing in the restricted area when the volcano erupted, he said.

The Indonesian archipelago has dozens of active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the 'Ring of Fire' between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The country's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions in 2010.

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Watch local TV film of the eruption on YouTube below