Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Volcano eruption in the Comoros

Molten lava simmered in the main crater of the only active volcano in the Comoros yesterday, however, experts said there was little risk to humans from Mount Karthala’s weekend eruption.
As nervous residents in the capital cast wary glances at the imposing mountain, which erupted twice last year, vulcanologists said there was no immediate threat to either the city or villages in its shadow.

“There is a bubbling lava lake (but) all the activity is confined within the crater,” said Julie Morin, a volcano expert from the nearby French island of Reunion who was in several reconnaissance flights over the mountain.

“We flew around the crater four times and we saw that all the activity was in the Chahale crater,” she said.

Mount Karthala erupted late on Sunday, creating a red cloud over its crater as lava glowed through the night sky, but there was no gush of molten rock or the ash and dust that have accompanied previous eruptions.

“It was a mild magma eruption,” said Mount Karthala National Observatory head Hamidou Nassor.
He said, however, that scientists could not rule out the possibility of increased activity in the coming days.

The 2,361m high volcano lies just 15km from Moroni, the capital of three-island Indian Ocean archipelago on the main isle of Grand Comore.

It last erupted in November, spewing a huge ash cloud into the air.

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