New Zealand volcano erupts; dozens of hikers safe
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - A New Zealand volcano erupted with a brief blast of dark ash on Wednesday, cancelling flights but causing no significant damage. Schoolchildren and dozens of other hikers who were walking on trails along the mountain's base were safe.
The eruption of Mount Tongariro, its second in less than four months, sent a dark ash plume about 3 kilometres into the sky. Authorities issued a no-fly alert above the mountain located in the sparsely populated area of central North Island.
National carrier Air New Zealand advised travelers that some of its flights could be delayed or cancelled because of the eruption. Airline spokeswoman Ms Brigitte Ransom said two flights had been cancelled by mid-afternoon.
The New Zealand Herald reported that about 100 middle-school students and teachers were safe after they were hiking on the Tongariro Track at the base of the volcano when it erupted. Dozens more adults hiking in the region were also uninjured.