NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 3 NEWS (New Zealand), BBC NEWS (UK), WALL STREET JOURNAL (USA)

Worldcrunch

WELLINGTON - Mount Tongariro erupted late Monday for the first time in nearly a century, reports the New Zealand Herald.

Roads were closed, internal flights were disrupted and nearby residents were advised to stay indoors and disconnect water tanks, reports the New Zealand Herald. Flights to and from Napier are still affected, according to the The Wall Street Journal.

No victims or damage were reported after the eruption, which spread a layer of ash several centimetres thick for several miles.

Located in the centre of New Zealand's North Island, Mount Tongariro last erupted in 1897. Scientists do not yet know whether this eruption is a single event or if it signals the start of more activity, reports BBC News.

It could pose a threat to the nearby Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Manawatu, Wanganui, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki regions, reports New Zealand television channel 3 News.

According to the New Zealand Herald, locals criticised the authorities for their late response after the eruption. Residents had to put their own emergency plan into action, with community liaison personnel contacting locals themselves. It took almost two hours for a Civil Defence warning to be issued.

The 1,978m (6,490 ft) peak is one of the highlights of the Tongariro National Park and remains a popular destination for hikers. It was used as backdrop for many scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies.

The mountain is about 200 miles north of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington.

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