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Volcano eruption in New Zealand causes road closures and flight cancellations

(Xinhua)

10:02, August 07, 2012

WELLINGTONG, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of travelers have been left stranded after the eruption of Mt Tongariro caused road closures and flight cancellations in New Zealand's North Island.

The volcano erupted about 11:50 p.m. local time Monday - its first eruption for more than a century, spewing ash from the Te Maari craters on the northern side of the mountain and prompting a threat warning for the central North Island.

Several Air New Zealand flights to airports east of Mt Tongariro, including Gisborne, Rotorua, Taupo and Napier, along with Palmerston North, were delayed or canceled following the eruption, affecting flights to and from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Air New Zealand general manager of airline operations and safety David Morgan said on Tuesday the airline is working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), MetService and other authorities to make adjustments to its flight routes and altitudes to ensure its aircraft remain clear of ash and keep travelers flying safely.

The Desert Road (State Highway 1) and SH46 west of Rangipo have reopened after being closed early on Tuesday, while ash has also been reported on SH5 near Te Haroto.

Moteliers in nearby Waiouru, Turangi and Tokaanu told NZ Newswire they had not been affected by ash, but there was a sulphur-like smell in the air and dark clouds near Mt Tongariro.
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