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Planes warned on volcano air space

The US National Weather Service has warned planes to avoid air space near an erupting Alaska volcano as it spewed ash 30,000ft above sea level.

Winds were blowing ash from Pavlof volcano to the west and south west.

Pavlof began erupting, pushing lava out from a vent near its summit, on Wednesday. On Friday, the ash cloud reached 16,000ft.

The eruption intensified yesterday, sending the ash cloud higher, said Dave Schneider, a geophysicist at Alaska Volcano Observatory.

It is not clear how long the eruption will last, Mr Schneider said. Pavlof's eruptions may last for weeks or months with varying levels of intensity, he said.

Pavlof, about 625 miles south west of Anchorage, is Alaska's most active volcano. It has had more than 40 recorded eruptions, including earlier this year and last year.

It lies along popular international air routes connecting Europe, North America and Asia.

The eruption has had little effect on people on the ground. The closest community, Cold Bay, is 40 miles away. Observers there reported seeing dark snow on the surface of the volcano on Wednesday, indicating an eruption had started.

There have been some small avalanches of hot rock down the north flank of the volcano. These may produce local mud flows to the north, but scientists say they would probably be minor.

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