Volcano in Alaska erupts again

Alaska's Augustine Volcano erupted again early Saturday after blowing five times Friday, but the Alaska Volcano Observatory said it did not expect a heavy accumulation of ash. The National Weather Service warned about 16,000 residents of Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island to the south an area that includes the city of Kodiak, about the ash cloud.

The 4,134-foot (1,240-meter) volcano is on an uninhabited island about 62 miles west of the town of Reynertson. Alaska Airlines canceled 28 flight into Anchorage and Fairbanks after 3 p.m. (2200 GMT) and said it would not resume flights until at least 8:30 a.m. (1730 GMT) Saturday as a safety precaution.

"We recognize these cancellations will significantly impact passengers intending to travel to or from Alaska," said Bill MacKay, Alaska's senior vice president for Alaska. Era Aviation also canceled flights. Ash can damage the engines of vehicles on the ground and aircraft that fly through the plumes.

It also can pose a health risk, especially for people with respiratory problems. Some schools on the Kenai Peninsula closed, affecting about 2,500 students. In Homer, 75 miles (120 kilometers) northeast of the volcano, many people already had bought dust masks after Wednesday's two eruptions, the first in 20 years. Friday's eruptions occurred between 4 a.m. and 7 p.m. Alaska time (1300 GMT Friday and 0200 GMT Saturday).

Similar short-lived explosive activity is expected to continue over the next several days or weeks, observatory spokeswoman Jennifer Adleman said, and additional eruptions could occur with little or no warning. Charlie Franz, chief executive officer of South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, said staff were putting extra filters in the air handling system. He advised people to stay home if a plume with a lot of ash comes their way. "Just don't go out if you don't have to," he said. "I think that's probably the best advice people can get, reports the AP. N.U.