Apocalyptic scenes after erupting Russian volcano covers entire villages in ash

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An aviation warning has been triggered after one of Russia’s most active volcanoes erupted and blasted a large cloud of ash into the sky.

Shiveluch volcano erupted just after midnight east Russian time and has smothered villages in dust as deep as 8.5cm – the deepest in 60 years.

The aviation warning impacts the far eastern Kamchatka peninsula where the volcano is located.

Scientists posted pictures of the ash cloud billowing over forests, rivers and villages.

‘The ash reached 20km high, the ash cloud moved westwards and there was a very strong fall of ash on nearby villages,’ said Danila Chebrov, the director of Kamchatka branch of the Geophysical Survey.

‘The volcano was preparing for this for at least a year… and the process is continuing though it has calmed a little now.’

He said further large ash clouds can not be ruled out which have already covered an area of 41,699 square miles (108,000 square kilometres).

Lava flows should not reach local villages and the eruption has not caused any casualties and is expected to calm down.

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The Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT) issued a red notice for aviation, saying ongoing activity could affect international and low-flying aircraft.

Some schools in the Kamchatka peninsula were forced to close and residents were told to stay indoors.

Oleg Bondarenko, head of the Ust-Kamchatsky municipal region, said ‘because what I have just seen here with my own eyes, it will be impossible for children to go to school, and in general, the presence of children here is questionable.’

He added residents’ power had been restored and drinking water was being supplied.

Around 300,000 people live on the Kamchatka peninsula, which juts into the Pacific Ocean northeast of Japan.

Shiveluch’s last eruption was in 2007 and has had about 60 substantial eruptions over 10,000 years.

The volcano has two main parts, the smaller of which – Young Shiveluch – is extremely active, according to scientists.

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