Rokatenda Volcano Erupts, Kills Six On Small Island In Indonesia

The Rokatenda volcano erupted very early on Saturday morning on the tiny island of Palu, Indonesia. You can see the latest eruption in the top video. However, it’s in Indonesian, so English-language speakers might as well skip the first 20 seconds or so of introduction.

The Rokatenda volcano is also known as Paluweh.

Six people were killed as they slept on the beach, including two children and three adults. At the time of writing, a sixth victim hasn’t yet been described or identified.

According to DW, Indonesian volcano expert Surono said that the heat from the Rokatenda volcano hampered recovery and rescue efforts.

Almost 3,000 people were evacuated before the volcano erupted. But almost 8,000 people were still on the island at the time of the blast. The plume went over a mile into the air — a reported 6,500 feet.

Multiple media reports, including Wired, said that Rokatenda has been rumbling since October 2012. At least one YouTube filmmaker Aris Yanto said Paluweh has actually been active since June 2012.

Wired volcano expert Erik Klemetti said that because of the frequent alerts, villagers had learned to ignore evacuation orders. He also noted that it was a fast-moving pyroclastic flow, not a slow-moving lava flow, which actually caught and killed the victims.

It isn’t clear if the victims ever woke up or if they simply didn’t have time to flee. The DW report said that the adult victims were age 58 or older, and the two children were five and eight.

The island nation of Indonesia is located on the Pacific Ocean’s so-called Ring of Fire. The 17,000 islands are the scene of frequent eruptions, including a series of 2010 eruptions that ended up killing over 350 people.

If you want to see what a pyroclastic flow looks like bearing down on you, scroll down to the second video by Aris Yanto. It’s impressive. However, you could warm up by first watching some other 2012 activity from the Rokatenda volcano site:

And here’s high-quality footage of 2012 pyroclastic flow moving from Rokatenda volcano into the ocean: