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Published on 29th August 2014

VSA's Media Officer Sarah Barnett blogs about the latest news from Kokopo. (All volunteers and staff in the area are safe and well.)

Chris Mitchell Volcano 4

Taking in the scene at the beach (photo by Chris Mitchell).

Remember yesterday, when the volcano was gently belching? This morning my phone rang at 5am – Howard (PNG Country Programme Manager) calling to say it was erupting. "Don’t evacuate – get outside and take pictures!"


It’s almost 20 years to the day since the 1994 eruption which destroyed huge amounts of Rabaul town, forcing the capital of East New Britain to relocate. Tavurvur has erupted on and off ever since.


From our rooms, we can see straight across to the three conical volcanoes (Tavurvur is the smallest). Just as it looked like the fireworks had stopped, there was another boom, and it blew out the side.


Right now, smoke, presumable from lava, is rolling down the sides. It’s odd that an event this huge isn’t already all over the news. Getting information has been difficult, according to Howard and a pair of Air Niugini pilots who are staying here. The ash column was up to 30,000 feet, they said, but flights are still going – just keeping away from the ash. We can see the volcano throwing rocks in the air – it’s clear that it’s not a trifling matter.


I just walked back from the beach to my room and passed the TV in the bar, which was playing the news. I stopped for a moment in case there was something about Tavurvur, but no, the breaking news this morning is that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have got married. Right now, it feels like we’re on a different planet.


Chris Mitchell Volcano 1

Mt Tavurvur, early this morning (photo by Chris Mitchell).





  • Rela on 6th September

    Land of the unexpected. Tavurvur is now silent but an unexpected explosion might occur any time again. One never knows when nature takes it's course.

  • Hannah on 29th August

    Tenk yu tru for the update Sarah and Chris. Tavurvur is definitely more active than it has been recently and it will definitely be challenging for the local residents caught in the ash path. Good for you to have the up to date info on the flights from the Air Niugini pilots as well. The ash is more likely to get in the way of flights between October and April once the wind shifts so let's hope Tavurvur has settled before then. Enjoy the rest of your time in Radaz.

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