Monday, August 6, 2012

Mt Tongariro eruption: Code red - New Zealand

A thick ash cloud is covering much of the central North Island after Mt Tongariro erupted for the first time in more than a century late last night.

The volcanic alert level for Mt Tongariro has risen from 1 to 2, while the aviation colour code has been raised to red.

Roads are closed, flights are likely to be disrupted and nearby residents are advised to stay indoors as ash and rock spews from the mountain.

GNS science is reporting that about 11.50pm on Monday night ash fall began to be reported in the volcano's vicinity - it has since been reported as far east as SH5 near Te Haroto and in Napier.

It is the first time the mountain has erupted since 1897.

GNS duty volcanologist Michael Rosenberg told Radio New Zealand that some people are reported to have left their houses on the southern shores of Lake Rotoaira, though no formal notices of evacuation have been issued so far by Civil Defence.

He said residents in the area have told GNS of hearing several loud explosions, lightning and plumes of smoke and police have been told by an onlooker that "a new hole in the side of the mountain" had formed.

They have also reported bright red rocks flying out of the mountain. Read More