PETROPAVLOVSK KAMCHATSKY, April 17 (RIA Novosti)
Russia's northernmost active volcano is churning out ash to a height of 9,500 meters (over 31,000 feet) in the country's Far East, local scientists reported on Tuesday.
The 3,283-meter (10,771-foot) Shiveluch volcano increased activity in May 2009 and has been periodically spewing ash from three to ten kilometers.
“A powerful eruption of ashes took place 05.59 a.m. local time [17:59 GMT on Monday], a source at the Far Eastern Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.
The official said the column of ashes could be clearly seen from a distance of 40 kilometers spreading to the east.
“It is the most powerful eruption this year,” the expert said.
According to scientists, the volcanic activity over the past two-three years has significantly altered the contour of the volcano with the crater increasing in size by 50% and the slopes becoming far steeper than before.
Although the current eruption poses no immediate threat to nearby settlements, the ensuing ash fallouts could be hazardous to health and the environment.
The clouds of volcanic ash could also pose threat to air traffic because the tiny particles cause problems with aircraft engine turbines.
So far, local authorities issued no warnings to air traffic in the area.
There are more than 150 volcanoes on Kamchatka, 29 of them active.
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