A remote island off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea is continuing to spew volcanic ash on Monday, causing several hundred residents to flee their homes.
Although exact details regarding the total number of local villagers that have been affected remains unclear, Samaritan Aviation, an American charity that has assisted in the evacuation, has said there are believed to be between 500 and 600 people living on Kadovar island.
Thought to be dormant, the 365-meter tall volcano began erupting on Friday and has not stopped since.
“There’s been a good amount of ash emitting continuously in a plume that has traveled about 120 nautical miles so far,” Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre forcaster Cheyne O’Brien told Xinhua.
“The plume of volcanic ash has reached over 2,000 meters high to the west-northwest and that’s been constant with what we have observed during the last 48 hours.”
At this point, there has not been any threat to aircraft in the vicinity, according to O’Brien.
“The ash at this level will not affect planes at cruising altitude and as far as we know there has been no disruption to flights,” he said.
With no previous eruption ever recorded on the island, volcanologists are having a hard time predicting whether an explosive eruption, that could cause tsunamis and landslides, may follow.
Chris Firth from Macquarie University in Sydney told local media, “It’s hard to predict what might happen, as there’s nothing to compare it to.”
The only mention of an explosive eruption in the area dates back to the 17th century, when records could be found about two “burning islands” in that area.