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Six Killed by Erupting Indonesian Volcano August 16, 2013
Satellite Image
Top: The pyroclastic cloud can be seen cascading into the sea on Aug. 10 as ash soars high above Palu. Bottom: The aftermath of the blast wiped out roads and left a blanket of fine volcanic debris.
A sudden burst of searing hot volcanic debris killed six people who were sleeping on a beach on the tiny Indonesian island home of Mount Rokatenda volcano.

The victims on Palue included three adults and two children who had not evacuated despite warnings since last October that the mountain was becoming more dangerous.

Most of Rokatenda's eruptions since the 1930s have sent lava flowing southward.

But the Aug. 10 eruption produced a blast of hot gas and debris that cascaded downslope, northward to the beaches where the victims were sleeping.

It was also accompanied by a huge column of ash and vapor that soared well over a mile into the air.

Many villagers had refused to leave because of the traditional belief that their presence was needed to keep lava from destroying their villages.

“People were scared and many were crying,” said rescue team member Bakri Kari following the deadly eruption. “They wanted to get away from the volcano, but at the same time they were reluctant to leave their livestock and homes.”

Approximately 2,000 people have evacuated to temporary shelters on nearby Flores island since authorities began warning of Rokatenda’s threat.

Many of those in evacuation centers were becoming ill due to a rain of ash blowing over from the volcano.

Photos: Agencies