VOLCANIC ACTIVITY DISRUPTS PACIFIC TRANSIT

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Air, sea traffic severely affected

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, June 1, 2010) – A large plume of volcanic ash is disrupting flights in the Pacific and threatening villagers in Vanuatu.

The situation is similar to one last month when a volcano in Iceland erupted, paralysing flights over Europe.

Tourists have been urged to stay away from Vanuatu's Mount Yasur volcano, which has disrupted domestic flights in neighbouring New Caledonia.

There are 6,000 people living in villages around the volcano, but local authorities say they have not been evacuated.

Meanwhile, an underwater volcanic eruption has led to a state of emergency being declared across the entire Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

Governor Benigno Fitial declared the state of disaster following a loud eruption on the island of Sarigan, about 175 kilometres north of Saipan.

As a result, sea and air traffic has also been severely affected.

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