VOLCANO’S RUMBLE SHUTS RABAUL AIRPORT

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VOLCANO’S RUMBLE SHUTS RABAUL AIRPORT

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Oct. 24, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Tavurvur volcano on Papua New Guinea's Rabaul harbor caldera has rumbled and begun spewing thick volcanic dust into the air.

The continuing spewing of dust forced flights into East New Britain’s Tokua airport to be suspended yesterday.

Tavurvur - which erupted violently in 1994 and destroyed much of Rabaul town - is one of a series of volcanoes on the 600-kilometre-long island of New Britain.

In West New Britain, Mount Pago - which erupted violently earlier this year - continues to erupt and lava was also flowing from it yesterday.

Activity on Mount Tavurvur increased on Sunday morning after a long period of low activity. The volcano threw up heavy, thick clouds of dust accompanied by rumblings.

Volcanic ash was blown towards Tokua on Tuesday evening, causing flights to be suspended.

Third level airline operators Airlink and Islands Air temporarily suspended flights. They resumed later in the day.

Light rain during the day might have helped to wash away the volcano dust, but an Air Niugini spokesman said all flights scheduled for today will remain suspended.

Acting chairman of the East New Britain Provincial Disaster Committee Akuila Tubal said eruptive activity causing explosions of thick dark ash plume were expected to continue.

He said rock fragments were also expected from the explosions and he warned people to keep well away from the base of the volcano.

Director of the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory Ima Itikarai said activity on Mount Tavurvur was not related to the Mount Pago eruptions.

He also said earth tremors felt in areas of the Gazelle Peninsula were also unrelated to the activity on Mount Tavurvur.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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