George and Elliana were playing in the yard. The school week had just ended, and they had gotten off the school bus and were in the yard chasing birdwing butterflies and trying to pick up ant lions using the stamen from the hibiscus flower.
Suddenly, the sky seemed to darken around them. Elliana came up to George. “I wonder what that is?” she asked. George shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe it’s a storm.” he replied.
All of a sudden, they noticed that many rainbow lorikeets were flying by, screeching as though in urgency. A pair of electus parrots also flew past and a sulphur crested cockatoo glided overhead.
“It looks a migration or something.” pondered George as he and Elliana gazed into the sky.
They hurried inside the house. Just then, there was a news flash.
"Breaking news! The volcano is spewing black smoke and ash. People are being warned to be cautious and prepare for evacuations. If able, vacate to the capital city, Port Moresby."
What was all this news? The children wondered. It seemed like some sort of emergency was taking place. Where was this happening?
George’s mother explained.
Papua New Guinea is in the Ring of Fire – a volcanic region and the island of Rabaul has a volcano that looks like it may erupt. It’s spewing ash into the air which is hazardous for people, she explained.
“But Mum, our friend is from Rabaul and she and her family are there this weekend visiting their family and friends.” said Elliana.
Oh no! thought George. “She’s right. We have to do something.” he said.
“Something is being done, George.” reminded his mother gently. “Your dad is heading on an aircraft there to assess the situation tomorrow.”
The next morning, as the aircraft was in the air, suddenly there was a noise.
“What was that?” wondered George’s dad out loud. The men looked around. Suddenly, they came upon a frightened looking face. It was Elliana.
“Elliana, what are you doing here?” exclaimed George’s father. “If you’re here, that means George is here too.” He spotted George’s head and went over. George looked up. George’s dad turned to the pilot.
“We need to turn around.”
“It's too late, we can’t do that.” replied the pilot.
“We’ll just have to go on.”
George and Elliana were in trouble.
“What made you come? You did a very dangerous thing.” said George’s dad.
“We just want to make sure our friend is alright.” said Elliana.
“We’ll keep out of your way, we promise.” said George.
“That’s not what I’m worried about, George.” said his dad. “It’s the uncertainty of the volcano, and keeping you two safe as well.”
The children were quiet.
Finally, the aircraft landed. George’s dad got out. “You two had better come with me. It’s best we all stay together.” he said.
The children followed as their dad got into a vehicle. As they drove on the road, they gazed up at the towering mountain puffing out black smoke. The vehicle stopped and the men got out to assess the situation. George and Elliana looked around. In the distance, they saw many boats and crowds of people gathered, waiting to board. They realized people were evacuating in preparation for the worst. They wondered if their friend Natalie was safe on the boat. Meanwhile, the volcano kept up it’s continuous stream of smoke and black ash. The air seemed to be thickening, George thought.
Suddenly, the children realized there was more black smoke. They heard a shout. It was George’s father. The men were running back to the vehicle.
“Get in the car!” shouted George’s dad. The volcano was getting ready to erupt!
The car sped along the road, aiming for the airstrip. They needed to get there fast. Just then, Elliana spotted something on the side of the road.
“Wait! Stop!” she cried. The car came to a careening halt. It was Natalie and her family! The family ran towards the car.
“Thank goodness you’re here!” cried Natalie’s father. “The volcano’s getting ready to erupt.” They piled into the car as it took off. George glanced behind him. As he looked he saw an orange stream flowing down the volcano. It was lava!
They had to get to the aircraft and take off before the lava got to them.
Would they make it in time?
Just then, they saw the airstrip in front of them, and the plane waiting for them! Elliana sighed in relief.
Quickly, everyone jumped out. They ran towards the aircraft. George’s dad waited until everyone had gotten in and made sure everyone was on board. The plane started and raced down the runway as it prepared to take off. George, Elliana and Natalie held their breath.
Then, they were up in the air, soaring above the volcanic eruption. It was a sight to behold.
The volcano really did erupt when we lived there. You can learn more about the Rabaul volcano eruption from ABC News.
And you can watch a video of the eruption.
Ring of Fire facts:
- The Ring of Fire is a region of seismic activity where the Earth’s tectonic plates meet, called fault lines.
- The earth’s plates are constantly sliding past or moving into or away from each other, which causes these volcanic eruptions.
- It is where roughly 75% of the world’s volcanoes are located.
- Papua New Guinea is in the Ring of Fire.