Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A volcano eruption forces people to escape it!

A volcano has erupted on the Comoros islands in the Indian Ocean, forcing hundreds of villagers to flee in fear of poison gas as the crater spewed ash and flung boulders over molten lava.

Witnesses say darkness enveloped homes near the summit of Mount Karthala as black rain pounded the mountainside, sparking panic among residents afraid of noxious fumes that killed 17 people a century ago.

Hagidga Mohamed, a receptionist at Itsandra Hotel in Moroni, said around 200 villagers had been evacuated to Moroni by the government.She said the fumes emanating from the volcano smell like petrol.

"We can see the red of the fire from the airport and we have dust in the airport also," a meteorologist at Comoros's international airport said.

The 2,361-metre Mount Karthala and its forested slopes form most of the land mass of Grande Comore, the main island in the Comoros chain which lies 300 km off east Africa, and which has witnessed periodic eruptions.

Families from the villages of Trelezini and Tsorale piled into taxis and buses and headed for the capital Moroni, which lies on the west coast of Grande Comore, about 15 km from Karthala's crater.

Karthala last erupted on July the 11th, 1991, when an explosion at the summit hurled boulders for several kilometres but caused no injuries.

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