Some international flights were diverted and several communities evacuated in the early hours of Friday morning after a volcanic eruption on Papua New Guinea.
Mount Tavurvur, on East New Britain Island, erupted hours before dawn, sending plumes of smoke and ash high above the nation and forcing local communities to evacuate.
The Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said residents of Rabaul town, the provincial capital, have been advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash.
Local resident David Flinn told Australian Broadcasting Corp the volcano was emitting steam and occasionally boomed. Mr Flinn said about 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.
A spokesperson said: “Flight paths between Sydney and Narita (Tokyo) and Sydney and Shanghai have been altered as a result of the volcanic ash cloud over Rabaul in eastern Papua New Guinea.
“The QF21, QF22 and QF130 will now fly over central Papua New Guinea to avoid the cloud.”
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.