- Thick volcanic ash blanketed the greater part of the island of Grand Comore today after Mount Karthala erupted for the second time this year. Officials warned there was a risk of poisonous gas emissions and polluted water supplies, and urged people to stay indoors as dust and ash continued spewing out of the notoriously active volcano.
"We are expecting serious consequences in terms of health - water will be polluted and [there will be a] food shortage if it lasts longer," World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Dr Mamadou Ball told the UN media 'IRIN'.
The risk of a full-blown eruption remains a concern, but there has been no sign of potentially devastating lava flows, and no casualties have been reported as a result of the volcanic activity that began on Thursday night.
"The amount of volcanic ash in the air has made it impossible to fly over the summit of Mount Karthala to assess the risk - it is impossible to drive, and authorities have warned people to stay home," said Giuseppina Mazza, the UN Resident Coordinator.
Comparing the situation to the eruption in April this year, when ash and other debris contaminated the island's water supplies and forced 10,000 people living in the shadow of the mountain to flee, Ms Mazza warned, "The risk depends on the toxicity of the dust and this dust seems much heavier," she added.
Mount Karthala, one of the world's largest active volcanoes, is the southernmost and largest of the two volcanoes that form Grand Comore Island in the Indian Ocean Comoros archipelago. It has having erupted more than 20 times since the 1800s.
Mount Karthala has a great potential of destruction, causing Comoran authorities and humanitarian agencies to be on high alert. The volcano last erupted in July 1991. At that occasion, no persons were killed although tens of thousands of villagers had to flee their homes. Large damage was done to crops and pastures.
The volcano is known to erupt in a cycle of approximately 11 years. Two strong eruptions in 1972 and 1977 did significant damages as lava flows reached the ocean. In 1977, the coastal village of Singani was partly destroyed by lava flows. In 1860, a lava flow even reached the coast close to Moroni, the capital of Comoros.
The entire Comoran archipelago - with the four major islands Grande Comore, Anjouan, Moheli and Mayotte (the latter a French colony) - is created through volcanism in geologically modern times. The volcanoes are a result of the island of Madagascar's drifting from the African continent and subsequent tensions in the stretching sea floor.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.