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Karthala volcano erupts (Comoros Islands, Indian Ocean)

lundi avril 18, 2005 22:29 | AUTEUR : TOM PFEIFFER

Location of the Comoros Islands (map from press agency Reuters)
Location of the Comoros Islands (map from press agency Reuters)

Karthala volcano, a shield volcano on Grande Comore, the largest of the Comoros Islands, 300 km off the east coast of Africa, began to erupt on April 17th.
The eruption began with increased seismic activity, and emission of steam and increasing amounts of ash that are causing severe breathing problems in the area immediately near the volcano. From an airplane observation it is apparent that a small lava lake is accumulating inside the crater, giving concern to the possibility of a sudden outbreak.


An estimated number of several thousands are reported to have evacuated Karthala's southern flank, the most affected zone, normally home to 10,000 and moved into the capital Moroni on the west coast of Grande Comore, about 9 miles from Karthala's crater. Most of the area appeared to have been evacuated by Monday afternoon. There are no reports of fatalities.


About 100 years ago, a toxic gas cloud released from the volcano, killed 17 people,- an event that is still present in the memory and local people are afraid that of a repetition of this hazard. So far, no dangerous gas emissions have manifested themselves in the eruption.
Karthala's last eruption was a phreatic explosion in 1991. In 1860, a large lava flow from the summit caldera reached the capital city of Moroni.

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