Indonesia volcano erupts, kills 6

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MAUMERE, Indonesia -- Lava from an erupting volcano killed six people sleeping in a beach village on a small island in eastern Indonesia on Saturday, after ash and smoke from the volcano shot about a mile into the air, officials said.

Mount Rokatenda in East Nusa Tenggara province erupted early Saturday morning, and nearly 3,000 people have been evacuated from the area on Palue island, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. The volcano has been rumbling since October.

The victims who died included three adults and two children, said agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, adding that the age of the sixth person killed was unclear. He said that the adults' bodies were recovered from Ponge beach in Rokirole village, but that the children's remains had not been found.

Prior to Saturday's eruption, many residents had already been moved to safer areas.

The eruption lasted about seven minutes, said Frans Wangge, who heads the volcano's monitoring post. He said the lava burned trees around the beach and villages, and made it difficult to reach the victims.

Mount Rokatenda is one of about 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that is home to some 240 million people. The country is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it sits along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a horseshoe-shaped series of fault lines.

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