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PNG rocked by volcanic eruption, dividing world's attention between Iceland and the Pacific

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Volcanoes on both sides of the world, in Iceland and in the Pacific Ocean, have been getting the attention of scientists as they monitor ongoing eruptions.

In Papua New Guinea, evacuations have been ordered and international airline flights have been diverted as Mount Tavurvur, which devastated the nearby provincial capital of Rabaul in a 1994 eruption, began spewing steam, smoke and ash.

The eruption on East New Britain Island in the South Pacific Island nation near the equator Friday has brought no reports of injuries or deaths, the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory said in a bulletin.

As an ash cloud reached 60,000 feet, some flights to and from Australia were diverted.

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center in Darwin said the volcanic ash cloud was drifting southeast.

"We expect it to clip the edge of Australian airspace later today but we don't expect ash over Australia," spokeswoman Cyndee Feals said.

Australia's Qantas Airline said it has shifted the paths of flights from Sydney to Tokyo and Shangri in China to avoid the ash cloud.

Several communities near the volcano were evacuated and Rabaul residents were being advised to remain indoors as ash fell.

The volcano has erupted several times in recent years, with the most recent event occurring last year.

Sitting on the Pacific Ocean's "Ring of Fire," Papua New Guinea is host to a large number of active volcanoes.

Meanwhile in Iceland, an eruption continued at that country's Bardarbunga volcano.

A flare-up Thursday caused authorities to raise the country's aviation alert to its highest level, red, before lowering down to orange on Friday.

That was because the flow of visible lava has stopped, officials said.

"Aerial observations by the Icelandic Coastguard show that only steam is rising from the site of the lava eruption," the Iceland Meteorological Office reported.

The eruption of Bardarbunga, which set beneath the country's largest glacier, was in its 13th day.

Officials said two more powerful earthquakes were recorded in the vicinity Friday, as lava continued to be drained away out of the eruption point.

Bardarbunga would continue to be monitored because even though "it is unclear how the situation will develop," additional eruptions remained a possibility, they said.

In 2010 another Iceland volcano, Eyjafjallajokull, erupted and sent an ash cloud spreading over European airspace, causing the cancellation of thousands of flights and stranding millions of passengers as the chaos of the cancellations rippled outward.

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