Five people have been killed after an Indonesian volcano erupted, spewing hot ash and rocks high into the air.

Mount Rokatenda, on the tiny island of Palue, sent fast-moving red-hot ash onto a nearby beach, leaving three adults and two children dead on Saturday, said volcanology centre head, Surono.

"We have found the bodies of the adults, but we are still looking for the children, and it is difficult because the area is still very hot," he added.

The volcano began erupting at 4:27 am (20:27 GMT Friday) and it continued for nearly four hours, said Surono.

He said volcanic ash travelled as far as 2,000m (6,560 feet) from the crater.

‘Ring of Fire’

Rokatenda has been on high alert since October, with authorities banning people from any activities within 3km from the crater on the island, home to about 7,000 people.

The Indonesian archipelago has dozens of active volcanoes and straddles major tectonic fault lines known as the "Ring of Fire" between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

The country's most active volcano, Mount Merapi in central Java, killed more than 350 people in a series of violent eruptions in 2010.

Source: Agencies