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5000 evacuated after PNG volcano erupts

More than 5000 people have been evacuated after Mt Ulawun in Papua New Guinea's West New Britain province erupted yesterday.

billowing volcanic

Mt Ulawun started erupting at about eight in the morning, local time. Photo: Freddie Kumai

The Post Courier reported Mt Ulawun, which straddles the boundary of East and West New Britain provinces started erupting at about 7am local time, spewing a tower of ash 13km into the air.

Nearby residents have spoken of the sky turning black, ash falling thick like rain, and flashes of lava being seen in the mountain's upper reaches.

A disaster response officer at Mt Ulawun said officials were caught off-guard by the eruption but moved people to safety in nearby Kabaya.

A shortage of vehicles reportedly hampered the movement of people to safety.

Air Niugini has cancelled all flights into Hoskins airport indefinitely following the eruption.

Lava flow has also reportedly cut off the New Brittan Highway at three different locations.

Thousands of people live in the shadow of Ulawun, despite it being one of the most active volcanoes in the country.

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