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article imageVideo: Children, teachers flee as Mount Tongariro erupts

By Greta McClain     Nov 21, 2012 in World
Taupo - New Zealanders on the north island of the country are dealing with the aftermath of a Mount Tongariro volcano eruption, the second eruption in less than 4 months.
Mount Tongariro, which provided the backdrop to The Lord of the Rings films, last erupted in on August 6, 2012. That eruption, which caused road closures and flight travel disruptions, marked the first time in over a century the volcano had erupted according to a Digital Journal report.
Wednesday's eruption, which was located on the Upper Te Maari Crater of Mount Tongariro, occurred at 1:25 p.m. local time (00:25GMT) and lasted approximately 5 minutes. Authorities issued a no-fly alert above the area after there were reports of volcanic ash spewing 2 or 3 km into the airr. Brigitte Ransom, a spokeswoman for Air New Zealand, told the New York Daily News that two flights had been canceled by mid-afternoon. The air carrier later tweeted they did not expect further delays or cancellations to domestic flights based on current information.
According to a TVNZ report, approximately 100 school children teachers and children were in the area when the eruption occurred, Frightened, they began to flee, but there were no reported injuries. A group of hikers who were also in the area were found safe as well.
The Ministry of Civil Defense issued a statement calling the eruption "minor volcanic activity" but warned that the area in the immediately vicinity of the craters could be hazardous. Volcanic ash is anticipated to affect the areas of Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Bay of Plenty.
GNS Science issued a media release on Friday announcing an increased risk of an eruption at Ruapehu, which is located near Tongariro. Scientists with GNS believed a vent leading from the Ruapehu was partially blocked after they observed a temperature below the lake of 800 degrees Celsius, and a lake temperature of only 20 degrees Celsius. That observation lead them to believe and eruption could occur in the few weeks.
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