A volcano erupted in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia early on Saturday morning, spewing ash thousands of feet into the air and smothering a nearby beach in lava. Six people were killed.
Mount Rokatenda, on the tiny island of Palue, has been rumbling since last year, and though there was an evacuation warning put in place as well as a 3 kilometer exclusionary zone around the base of the volcano, authorities say several residents stayed because they were accustomed to the activity. Among the victims are three adults and two children; a sixth victim has yet to be identified. The eruption, which shot ash and smoke over a mile into the air, lasted over four hours. Villagers have been evacuated due to the instability of the area.
Indonesia is a hotbed of volcanic activity because it sits on what is known as the “Ring Of Fire”, a series of fault lines that run in a horseshoe shape. There are nearly 130 active volcanoes in the country today.
Several volcanoes around the world have been active this year; one of the most recent, Mount Popocatepetl in Mexico, erupted in June after months of rumblings. Popo, as the mountain is called by locals, has an interesting story behind it; the myth about Popocatepetl and nearby volcano Iztaccíhuatl tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers, Popoca and Izztaccihuati (“White Lady”). Iztaccihuati, the daughter of an Aztec Emporer, fell in love with Popoca, who was sent off to war. When an enemy sent false word back home that Popoca was dead, Iztaccihuati died of a broken heart, and when Popoca came home victorious from battle to find her dead, he carried her body to the top of a mountain and had a funeral table built for her. Popoca stayed to watch over her until he, too, died of a broken heart. The Gods were touched by Popoca’s sacrifice and changed their bodies into great volcanos, making Popoca the largest one and dubbing it Popocatepetl (“Smoking Mountain”). The story goes that he sometimes throws out great plumes of smoke and ash as a reminder that he still watches over Iztaccihuatl, who lays sleeping still.