An island volcano on the north coast of Papua New Guinea erupted early on Saturday, forcing 2,000 villagers to flee from lava flows, the National Disaster Centre said.
Manam Island, just 10 km wide, is one of the Pacific nation’s most active volcanoes and is home to roughly 9,000 people.
Three villages were directly in the path of the lava flow and residents had to be evacuated to safer ground, Martin Mose, director of the PNG National Disaster Centre, told Reuters by phone.
The Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) reported the eruption began at 6 a.m. local time, sending an ash column 15 km above sea level.
The ash falls were so heavy that trees broke under the weight, the RVO said in an information bulletin.
Previous eruptions on Manam have killed residents who breathed in the ash or were buried by landslides, according to volcanic information website volcanodiscovery.com.