Volcanic ash cloud stretches 500 km above Kamchatka
May 21, 2007 - 3:22:55 PM

Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky -, May 21 - Volcanic ash from an eruption of Eurasia's highest volcano, Klyuchevskoi, on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, is stretching over 500 km above the Bering Sea, spokesman of a volcanology institute said Monday.

Satellite data show a distinct ash cloud northeast of the volcano at a height of 8.2-8.7 km, which started to erupt on February 15. Although the ash cloud is making monitoring almost impossible, seismic reports suggest that the eruption could escalate.

Ash is reportedly falling 40 km away from the volcano, and locals have reported hearing powerful explosions. Nearby villagers have been advised to leave their homes only in emergencies to prevent intoxication and other negative consequences.

Ash is a hazard to aircraft flying as the ash particles with a diameter of up to 2mm can destroy engines if they get into turbines.

Prior to February's volcanic activity, Klyuchevskoi last came to life in January-May 2005. Following that eruption, the volcano 'sank' by 50 meters -, from 4,800 meters - to the current 4,750 meters -.

Apart from powerful mudflows that could form from ice thawing on the volcano's sides, the current eruption of Klyuchevskoi does not pose a threat to locals.

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