A dormant volcano has erupted for the first time in known history, sending a huge ash cloud around the area more than two kilometres above the sea.
The volcano, located on Kadovar Island just of Papua New Guinea's north coast, was dormant but started to erupt on January 5, local media reports.
Spectacular photos taken from the sky show a thick ash cloud and smoke blocking the view of the island, where 600 people live.
PNG authorities were alerted about the shock eruption by distressed residents who called for help from the island, News Corp reports.
The Rabaul Volcanological Observatory told Loop PNG the eruption could “become explosive”.
“Due to the steepness of the island, landslides are possible and together with the explosive nature of the magma, tsunamis may be generated,” a report read.
“It appears from satellite imagery and aerial photographs that it started with mild vulcanian activity from a vent at the southeast base of the cumulodome.
“It appears a fissure may be opening just inside of the western wall of the vent’s breach, descending down to at least sea level."
Facebook page Samaritan Aviation posted about the eruption and said the "volcanic activity has increased dramatically" on the island in the past 18 hours.
Residents were forced to evacuate, some in a dingy, while experts are racing to figure out why the volcano came to life.
Fifty to 60 per cent of the island is covered by lava since the volcano began to erupt.