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Papua New Guinea volcano erupts, locals evacuate

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted Friday after a volcanic eruption on Papua New Guinea.
 
Authorities in the South Pacific nation had evacuated communities close to Mount Tavurvur which erupted early Friday in Rabaul district on New Britain Island, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
 
Residents of Rabaul town, the provincial capital, had been advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash, the statement said.
 
Local resident David Flinn told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the volcano was emitting steam and occasionally boomed. Flinn said about one centimeter (half an inch) of ash covered surrounding areas.
 
Qantas Airways said the ash cloud from the volcano had prompted minor alterations to flight paths between Sydney and Tokyo and between Sydney and the Chinese city of Shanghai.
 
The volcano, which is one of the most active in the region, destroyed the town of Rabaul in 1994 when it erupted simultaneously with nearby Mount Vulcan.
 
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