Comoros volcanic eruption stops, risk eases

MORONI, June 2 (Reuters) - A volcanic eruption that shook the Indian Ocean island of Grande Comore this week has ended, and molten lava in the volcano's crater is cooling off and solidifying, an expert on said Friday.
Mount Karthala erupted on Sunday night, frightening thousands on the island, the biggest on the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros.

Many amongst the 300,000 people living in Karthala's shadow feared a full blown explosion would shower them in molten rock.

An African Union force that stayed in Comoros after overseeing presidential elections flew scientists to the crater to investigate the risks, but on Wednesday they said the lava was contained in the volcano.

"Our readings suggest that the volcanic activity has stopped," Hamidou Nassor, one of the scientists, told journalists on Friday after they monitored it with special instruments. "The lava lake has cooled on the surface."

As late as Thursday, villagers in parts of Grande Comore could still hear rumbling beneath the earth, but Nassor said the volcano no longer posed a risk.

"The lava will not appear again. The rumblings that have been heard in some villages are no cause for alarm," he said.

Karthala's rage has rarely been lethal. The worst disaster on record was in 1903, when poisonous gases seeping from cracks in the crater killed 17 people.

The last big eruption, in April 2005, sent thousands fleeing but caused no damage.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
For more humanitarian news and analysis, please visit