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    » 08/12/2013, 00.00


    East Nusa Tenggara: volcanic eruption kills six, displaces thousands

    Mathias Hariyadi

    Mount Rokatenda continues to spew gas and lava. The dead (including two children) were surprised in their sleep. No significant reduction in the activity, expert warn, as the authorities remain on high alert. An earthquake is reported in eastern Indonesia; no tsunami warning issued.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Paluweh volcano (Mount Rokatenda) on Palu'e Island continues to spew lava and ashes, after erupting again last Saturday killing six, including two children whose bodies have not yet been recovered.

    The volcano is located on an island in a remote area of eastern Indonesia and is difficult to reach-four hours by boat from the main island of Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, which is the only Indonesian province with a Catholic majority in the world's most populous Muslim country.

    The victims died in their sleep as ashes covered their temporary shelter on a beach in the village of Rokirole, Palu'e Island.

    The thousands who have been displaced are waiting for the authorities to allow them to return home once the eruption stops. Meanwhile, the volcano continues to spew clouds of gas and dust, blanketing the small island (4-km radius).

    As the authorities remain on high alert, there were no significant reductions in the activity, experts said.

    Complicating matters, an earthquake measuring 6 on the Richter scale jolted eastern Indonesia today, 800 km north-east of the volcano, rattling nerves even more.

    However, no deaths or damage were reported so far, and no tsunami warning was issued.

    On Palu'e, islanders have had to cope with the problems associated with their volcano for a long time. Rising to 875 metres above sea level, its biggest eruption in recent history dates back to 1928. On that occasion, a tsunami followed.

    For the authorities, the island is a high-risk area; yet, most of its residents, who number in the thousands, have chosen to stay, believing that the mountain has to be cared for continuously to avert the danger of eruptions.

    Indonesia is an archipelago of thousands of islands and atolls on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, part of what earth scientists call the "Ring of Fire".

    The latter is characterised by intense volcanic and earthquake activity, due to the collision of several continental plates.

    Many still vividly remember the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the region in December 2004, with the epicentre off the coast of Aceh, causing hundreds of thousands of victims throughout Asia.

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    See also

    05/02/2013 INDONESIA
    Critical situation for 2,000 Catholics forced to flee by Mt Rokatenda's eruption
    Lava began spewing Saturday but only now the full extent of the situation has emerged. Most of the people displaced from the small island are Catholic. A priest born on the island sounded the alarm, asking for food, water and basic items. A Catholic activist says the first supplies are ready for delivery.

    20/04/2013 INDONESIA
    The hobbits? They lived in Asia
    According to recent studies, carried out by Professor Yousuke Kaifu, Homo florensiensis, nicknamed "hobbits" because of their resemblance to the creatures of Tolkien, changed their physical characteristics to adapt to the island of Flores.

    29/12/2010 INDONESIA
    Java, Bromo volcano erupts. 25 thousand people at risk
    One of the mountains favoured by tourists in Indonesia is once again active. Local authorities prohibit access, because of the amount of ash, which is destroying crops and tourism industry. The people must cover their faces with a mask to guard against the heat.

    10/11/2010 INDONESIA
    Central Java: Catholics open churches, schools and homes to refugees fleeing from volcano
    Dozens of parishes in the Archdiocese of Semarang involved in aid programs for the displaced from areas affected by the eruption of Mount Merapi. In Yogyakarta mobile dispensaries also organized to help those who can not find refuge in camps. Death toll mounts to 185 since 26 September.

    29/10/2010 INDONESIA
    Central Java: Merapi erupts again, no victims
    The eruption resumed this morning with hot ash clouds 3 km high. The death toll from the first eruption on 27 October increases to 35.

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