Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tourists warned to stay away from volcano

Tanzania has issued a travel advisory against tour guides taking tourists to Mount Oldonyo Lengai as the active volcano started erupting again.

The travel advisory was issued by the Tanzanian Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).

Local English newspaper The Guardian on Saturday quoted NCAA PR and Information Officer Vincent Mbirika as saying that the warning had been necessary because more volcanic eruption is imminent.

"Tour operators have been warned not to pass near the mountain since doing so would put the lives of our visitors at risk," said Mbirika.

"We have been forced to take precautionary measures because we are not sure when another eruption will occur and to what proportion," added the park management official.

Mount Oldonyo Lengai, Tanzania's only active volcano standing at 3,450 meters above sea level, started erupting on March 30.

It is the world's only active sodium carbonate volcano and is the world's only volcano that erupts natrocarbonatite lava.

Natrocarbonatite lava usually contains almost no silicon and is much cooler in temperature than other lavas.

The highly fluid lava measures 510 degrees Celsius as against basaltic lava that can be as hot as 1,100 degrees Celsius.

Volcanic activities at Mount Oldonyo Lengai have been witnessed by many since the late 1980s. In July last year observers recorded a lesser eruption.

The last explosive activity of Mount Oldonyo Lengai was recorded in 1966. The volcano posted major eruptions back in 1917, 1926 and 1940.

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