Large explosive eruption propels ash to 60,000 feet (18,288 meters) – Aviation color code raised to red.
Mount Tavurvur erupted early on Friday, forcing evacuation of local communities.
The eruption involved “incandescent projections and ongoing loud roaring and rumbling noises,” stated a notice from the Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazards.
Officials said there have been no reports of deaths or injuries so far, but local residents were advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash.
Photos from Rabaul show the ground covered in a layer of ash.
The 2,257-foot (688-meter) volcano, on the tip of New Britain island in the country’s east, has erupted many times in the past 80 years; in 1937, 1994, 2006 and again last year.
The 1994 eruption, which occurred simultaneously with nearby Mount Vulcan, destroyed Rabaul town. Although few lives were lost due to quick evacuation, looters ransacked the town.
Today’s eruption prompted Australia to issue travel warnings against visiting the island.
“It’s too early to say at this point if the ash cloud will reach Australia but it was a significant eruption,” said senior meteorologist Ian Shepherd.
Papua New Guinea lies on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is home to a number of active volcanoes.
Thanks to Ronald Baker, A.J. Virgo, Lyn Roberts, Wanda and Cameron Dale for these links
“This eruption being in the Ring of Fire is more significant than Iceland,” says Cameron.