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PNG volcanic eruption sparks further evacuations

AFP  |  Sydney 

Thousands of residents of an island near a volcano have been evacuated after escalating eruptions sparked fears of a possible and tsunami, authorities and reports said today.

The previously dormant volcano, more than 500 metres (1,640 feet) high, on the northern island of off PNG erupted on January 5 with all 600 residents evacuated.

But volcanic activity significantly escalated in recent days, culminating in a big blast on Friday, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO) said.

"Big rocks were blasted out and there was a significant amount of material involved," the RVO told local website Loop PNG.

"The rocks were glowing red... previous to this blast, it was observed that the fracture, which was apparent in the initial aerial photos, running from the summit dome down to the coast, had apparently widened."

More than 3,000 residents on surrounding islands Biem and Ruprup were also evacuated, local reports said, after fears a second volcano on Biem had also erupted.

Local volcanologists have yet to confirm the second eruption, with the RVO saying the tremors could be from the ongoing activity on

PNG Peter O'Neill said his government was supporting the evacuations as he warned of a possible

"The terrain around the (Kadovar) volcano is very steep, so this increases the risk of a large that could trigger a tsunami," O'Neill said in a statement today.

"Tsunamis can travel hundreds and thousands of kilometres across open water, so communities must be ready if there is a "

He added that flights had been cancelled and all ships and boats not involved with the evacuation effort were to keep clear of the area.

Tsunamis can be triggered by undersea earthquakes or due to the eruption or collapse of volcanoes located on coastlines, according to the Geological Survey.

Massive eruptions can cause giant landslides which can in turn generate tsunamis when the landmass enters water at a high speed.

PNG sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where high volcanic and seismic activity is the norm.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, January 14 2018. 18:25 IST