A New Zealand volcano dormant for more than a century has erupted, sending up ash clouds, disrupting flights and closing roads.
Mount Tongariro, one of three volcanoes in the centre of the North Island, became active just before midnight local time, with reports of loud explosions, spewing rocks and steam.
The 1,978m (6,490 ft) peak is in a national park popular with hikers.
No casualties or damage have been reported after the eruption.
Witnesses described a dramatic scene as the volcano erupted.
”I saw this beautiful, big cloud and I thought: ‘Gee that looks like a volcanic plume’. Just as I thought that there was a great big orange flash,” truck driver Bryn Rodda told New Zealand National Radio.
“It was quite impressive.”
Mount Tongariro last erupted 115 years ago, and scientists said they did not yet know if this eruption was a single event or if it signalled the start of more activity.
Experts said they were caught by surprise – they had recorded some seismic activity in recent weeks but were not expecting an eruption.
“This might just be a quiet period and we should expect it to start again at any time. So we are watching things very closely,” volcanologist Michael Rosenberg told TVNZ.