August 6, 2012 – NEW ZEALAND – The volcanic alert level for Mt. Tongariro has risen from 1 to 2 after the central North Island volcano erupted for the first time in more than a century late last night. GNS science is reporting that at approximately 11:50 pm on Monday night ash fall began to be reported in the volcano’s vicinity – it has since been reported as far east as SH5 near Te Haroto and in Napier. GNS duty volcanologist Michael Rosenberg told Radio New Zealand that some people are reported to have left their houses on the southern shores of Lake Rotoaira, though no formal notices of evacuation have been issued so far by Civil Defense. He said residents in the area have told GNS of hearing several loud explosions, lightning and plumes of smoke and police have been told by an onlooker that “a new hole in the side of the mountain” had formed. They have also reported bright red rocks flying out of the mountain. The eruption reportedly happened at the Te Mari Craters, which are close to the Ketetahi Hot Springs on the northern side of the mountain. Civil Defence says the volcanic activity could pose a threat to the Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Manawatu-Wanganui, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki regions. A warning was also issued at 1.45am to people in these affected areas saying residents should stay indoors since volcanic ash is a health hazard. –NZ Herald
contribution Ana B.