From: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published March 20, 2009 02:04 PM

Inspectors Head to Undersea Volcano

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (AP) -- Scientists sailed Thursday to inspect an undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga -- shooting smoke, steam and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the South Pacific ocean.

Authorities said Thursday the eruption does not pose any danger to islanders at this stage, and there have been no reports of fish or other animals being affected.

Spectacular columns are spewing out of the sea about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the southwest coast off the main island of Tongatapu -- an area where up to 36 undersea volcanoes are clustered, geologists said.

Trade winds continued to blow gas and steam away from the island Thursday.

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Tonga's police deputy commander Taniela Faletau said coastal villages close to the roiling ocean site were not yet at risk and that no warnings had been issued.

Article continues: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/03/19/science/AP-AS-Tonga-Volcano.html

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