World Bulletin / News Desk
A New Zealand volcano dormant for more than a century has spewed boulders and spread an ash cloud over the centre of the country, disrupting air traffic but causing no other damage or injuries.
Mount Tongariro, one of three volcanic peaks in the central North Island, roared into life late on Monday night, as craters on the mountain located in a national park near popular hot springs, exploded with bright flashes and thunderous booms.
The spew of rocks, fine particles and steam from the snow-capped, 1,978-m (6,490-ft) peak, was caused by a pressure buildup of volcanic gases, volcanologists said, after seismic activity had increased in recent weeks.
Steve Sherburn, volcanologist at New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, said the scale of the eruption was unexpected, as activity at the volcano had been sporadic before Monday's explosion.
"We haven't had any activity for several days so to go from what we had seen to an eruption last night was a little surprising," he said.
A cloud of ash billowed over the central North Island on Tuesday, blanketing the area with a thick, grey carpet of ash.
Flights to and from provincial destinations, including renowned tourist spot Rotorua, were delayed or cancelled on Tuesday, and local highways were closed for a time, but there were no reports of damage or injury.
Meteorologists said the ash cloud was being blown eastwards towards the Pacific Ocean.
The last time Mount Tongariro erupted was in 1897, ending a decades-long period of intermittent activity, and Sherburn said Monday's explosion could be the start of more such activity in the area.
"At the moment we really don't know, it could just be a singular event, or it could be the start of a period similar to what we've seen historically," he said.
Neighbouring Mount Ruapehu is the most active volcano in New Zealand, last erupting in 2007 when it sent a lahar, or mud slide, down the side of the mountain.
Major eruptions in 1995 and 1996 by Ruapehu resulted in widespread flights disruptions and the closure of ski fields on the mountain.
Police say 17 men arrested while waiting to receive money from families to pay extra to be smuggled to Malaysia
Duterte’s comments in China lead to uncertainty about how Japan’s diplomats are expected to respond to Manila’s turnaround
Police say festival was underway at park in Tochigi prefecture, investigation ongoing
Culture and entertainment suffers as nationalistic sentiment stirred by India-Pakistan tension
Three senior members of the Afghan Taliban held a series of meetings with Pakistani officials in the capital to brief them about the recent secret talks with Kabul held in Qatar
Military says 19 people arrested this week admitted they were involved in fatal attacks on police outposts
A US warship sailed past the South China sea, with two Chinese naval vessels sending a warning to the ship
State union with 300,000 employees could strike over pro-independence workers being sacked
Day after Philippines leader declares separation from US, ministers say was merely signaling stronger ties with neighbors
Three-year plan aims to promote relations between two foreign ministries
Islamabad court orders police to arrest PTI leader Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri over 2014 protests
Military gov’t earlier said sought to seize Yingluck Shinawatra's assets to repay debt accrued under gov't scheme
As China moves closer to Pakistan, Chinese forces hold joint drills with rival Indian forces in Kashmir
Rights group says officials citing security operations to deny access to area where violence has displaced Rohingya, others
Men taken to suspected drug hideout outside of Jakarta when they attacked officers with knife and tried to seize firearms
No tsunami alert issued for shallow earthquake in Tottori prefecture