Papua New Guinea’s volatile Ulawun volcano erupted early Tuesday, sending a column of red lava shooting up into the sky and forcing the evacuation of recently returned residents.
Mount Ulawun, situated on the remote Bismarck Archipelago chain, displaced between 7,000 and 13,000 people from their homes when it last erupted in June.
The seismic activity started at midday on Monday before the volcano erupted at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, according to Rabaul Volcano Observatory assistant director Ima Itikarai.
As light dawned, billowing clouds of grey ash could be seen rising several hundred meters into the sky, he said, while local Chris Lagisa said residents could hear the noise of gushing gas and flowing lava.
Ulamona Volcano Observatory staffer Herman Volele said ash falls could affect Kimbe, the nearby capital of West New Britain province, while regular earthquakes were also occurring in the vicinity of the volcano.
While most people affected by the previous eruption had remained at evacuation centres, an official with the West New Britain Disaster Office said a number who had returned to tend to their homes and gardens at the base of the volcano had to be evacuated again.