New Zealand’s Mount Tongariro, a backdrop for scenes in “The Lord of the Rings” movies, erupted for the first time in 115 years late Monday night, spreading a thick layer of ash for several miles and causing residents to leave their homes and airlines to cancel flights.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

The Associated Press via The Guardian:

Scientists said they noticed increased seismic activity below Mt Tongariro for weeks but there was no specific warning before the volcano erupted late on Monday night. The eruption of ash and rocks lasted about 30 minutes and did not cause any injuries or damage in the sparsely populated central North Island region, which is a designated national park.

… Police said a witness described flashes and explosions followed by a cloud of ash coming from a hole in the north face of the mountain.

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