Volcano Eruption Forces Evacuations in South Pacific

Jason Tassell, AP
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Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted on Friday after volcano erupted on Papua New Guinea.

Authorities in the South Pacific nation evacuated communities close to Mount Tavurvur, in Rabaul district on New Britain Island.

Residents of Rabaul town, the provincial capital, were advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash.

Local residents said about one centimeter (half an inch) of ash covered surrounding areas as the volcano spewed a massive column of gritty smoke.

Qantas Airways said the ash cloud from the volcano prompted minor alterations to flight paths between Sydney and Tokyo and between Sydney and Shanghai.

The volcano, which is one of the most active in the region, destroyed the town of Rabaul in 1994 when it erupted simultaneously with nearby Mount Vulcan.