Saturday 10 August 2013

Six people killed by eruption on Mount Rokatenda.

Six people, including two children have been killed by an eruption on Mount Roketenda on the tiny Indonesian island of Palue (or Paluweh), to the north of Flores (East Nusa Tenggara) in the Lesser Sunda Islands. The eruption, which took place at around 4.30 am local time on Saturday 10 August 2013 (around 8.30 pm on Friday 9 August, GMT), producing an ash column 2 km high. All of those killed were on a beach close to the volcano which was hit by a rain of hot ash. The beach had in theory been part of a 3 km exclusion zone around the volcano set up after an eruption in October 2012, but local people had apparently become complacent and begun to re-enter the area (the island is only 4 km across).

The 10 August 2013 eruption on Mount Rokatenda, seen from Maurole on the north coast of Flores. AFP.

Flores (and Paluweh) sits on the northern part of the Timor Microplate; a small fragment of crust caught between the Banda Sea Plate to the north and the Australian plate to the south. Both these other plates are subducting beneath the Timor Plate, and as they sink into the Earth, melted by the friction and the heat of the planets interior. Some of this melted material then rises through the overlying plate, fueling the volcanoes of Flores and Timor.

The approximate location of Palue Island. Google Maps.

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