November 21, 2012 – NEW ZEALAND – A teacher who was on Mt Tongariro with a group of 90 students has captured the ‘‘absolutely spectacular’’ eruption of the volcano on video. GNS Science confirmed the eruption, at the Te Maari crater, happened shortly after 1.20pm. It is the second eruption on the mountain this year; an eruption on August 6 was the first on Tongariro for more than 100 years. Tamatea Intermediate teacher Lomi Schaumkel said they were near the Katetahi hot springs when eruption began. “We were right up there next to it. It was just amazing. It was pretty scary from where we were and it just looked absolutely spectacular, the ash that came out. It really did look like one of those atom bomb explosions, and it made a rumbling sound.’’ There were 90 students, six parents and four teachers in the group. ‘‘Some panicked, some didn’t. Everyone came down safely and it was great.” The group was about 1 km away from the eruption, Schaumkel said. “We saw all these tourists running away from it. We didn’t stick around long.” A further 20 Year 8 pupils from Gulf Harbour School in Whangaparoa were making their way off the track with parents and guides after being just 750m from where the crater erupted. Two bus drivers from Nimon and Sons, who took the Napier children to the mountain, had reported back to their base that they could see an ash plume 2km high, a spokesman said. Department of Conservation (DOC) area manager Jonathan Maxwell said 30 to 50 people were being evacuated from the Tongariro Crossing track. No injuries had been reported but the crossing had been closed. Today’s eruption lasted for about five minutes. GNS has updated the alert on Tongariro to level 2, meaning there is “minor eruptive activity.” The aviation color code has been lifted to red, meaning there is “significant emission of ash” into the atmosphere. In this case, the rebel advance has disrupted all the humanitarian work that has been underway as aid workers have been forced to flee. Autesserre said there were also reports of looting by the Congolese government forces as they evacuated Goma, which may in part explain why thousands of people welcomed the rebel troops. –Stuff
contribution Sheree A.