Papua New Guinea cancels flights, plans to evacuate after volcano eruption | Volcano news

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The South Pacific nation is lowering its alert level, but warns that the Ulawun eruption could continue ‘indefinitely’.

A volcanic eruption on a remote island in Papua New Guinea has prompted some residents to begin evacuating and the island’s airport to cancel flights.

Ulawun, the South Pacific nation’s most active volcano, sent smoke up to 15km (9.3 miles) into the air on Monday afternoon, the country’s Geohazards Management Department said, in its first major eruption in years.

The eruption on the island of New Britain prompted officials to coordinate evacuation plans and cancel standoffs at the area’s Hoskins airport.

Ash continued to rise on Tuesday, reaching at least 5km (3.1 miles), but the country’s geological hazard department lowered its alert level from Level 4 to Level 3 – indicating a “moderate to strong” eruption rather than a “strong eruption”. . “.

However, the volcano remained active and the eruption could continue indefinitely, the department said.

The explosion was expected to trigger a tsunami off the coast of Japan on Tuesday, the department said.

The erupting volcano is 47km (29 miles) away from the Papua New Guinean town of Bialla, which is nestled among oil palm plantations on the slopes of Ulawun.

The department said a heavy layer of black ash caused leaves to fall in oil palm plantations near the volcano and accumulate on roofs.

‘Fire Wheel’

Papua New Guinea sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean where much of the world’s earthquake and volcanic activity occurs.

Ulawun has erupted again since the 1700s. Its last major eruption in 2019 forced the evacuation of more than 5,000 people.

The department said there were no known casualties from Ulawun’s history of eruptions.

But significant impacts in terms of population displacement, infrastructure damage and disruption of services were common, the department said.

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