Ash forces air traffic reroute

Moscow - Ash thrown kilometres into the sky by an increasingly active volcano in a remote Russian Pacific coast territory has forced a reroute of international air traffic, government officials said on Monday.

A column of smoke and ash from the volcano Shiveluch, located in the centre of Russia's rugged Kamchatka peninsula, has reached an altitude of 8.6 kilometres and poses a threat to aircraft, officials at Russia's National Geophysical Service (RNES) told Interfax.

The ash discharges were increasing in intensity and volume over the weekend. The RNES is now rating Shiveluch at level orange, one step below its most dangerous rating, red.

The Monday ash column was the most significant in a month and was accompanied by rock slides and an increase in the size of a rock dome known to contain lava, the report said.

The flight advisory aside, the volcano currently does not threaten human life or property, in part because the closest village to Shiveluch is some 45 kilometres' distant, officials said.

Shiveluch is one of the Pacific region's most active volcanoes. Its last catastrophic eruption was in 1956. Its last major eruption was in 1964.

After several decades of relative dormancy the volcano started showing signs of growing activity in 2006.

Shiveluch's increasing ash emissions are a sign of rising pressure. However, it is impossible to predict when the volcano might erupt, RNES spokesmen have said.

Containing more than 150 volcanoes, Russia's Kamchatka peninsula is one of the world's most active seismic zones. -