An island volcano has erupted on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, forcing 2000 villagers to flee from lava flows, the National Disaster Centre says.
Manam Island, just 10km wide, is one of the Pacific nation’s most active volcanoes and is home to about 9000 people.
Three villages were directly in the path of the lava flow and residents had to be move to safer ground on Saturday, Martin Mose, director of the PNG National Disaster Centre, told Reuters by phone.
The Rabaul Volcano Observatory reported the eruption began at 6am, sending an ash column 15km above sea level.
The ash falls were so heavy that trees broke under the weight, the RVO said.
The RVO’s Steve Saunders said it was an unusually large eruption.
He said the initial phase of the eruption was over but a new vent had opened, indicating more activity might be likely.
The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre issued a threat warning to aviation to reroute around the cloud, which was above the cruising level of commercial airlines.
The cloud was expected to dissipate during the next 12 hours, DVAAC meteorologist Amanda Alford told Reuters.