Volcano erupts without warning in New Zealand, two injured

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mount Ruapehu in 1992

Mount Ruapehu, a volcano in New Zealand, erupted at 8:20 p.m. (local time), without any warning and the government has closed all roads and railways surrounding the volcano including Desert and National Park roads. The eruption lasted for nearly ten minutes and is at this time considered to be a "minor eruption"; so far no state of emergency has been declared.

"At this stage it's not a civil defense emergency," said area councilman Paul Wheatcroft. Volcanologist Craig Miller calls the eruption a minor "Level 2 eruption." Level 5 is considered a major eruption. The eruption also caused a minor magnitude 2.8 earthquake.

At least two people have been injured, one believed to be a climber who was climbing the volcano and was hit by a falling rock at the time of the eruption. Authorities are searching for that individual. One other climber was also on the volcano, but it is not known what the extent of his injuries are.

Lodges and resorts near the volcano are currently being evacuated as ash lahars and flowing mud could be seen coming from the volcano on the east and north sides. Authorities have told everyone to stay away from and off the volcano.

So far there have been no reports of damage to homes or businesses.

There are concerns from local authorities that houses and towns may be affected by the eruption.