Video: Mountain used in 'Lord of the Rings' erupts

updated 9/25/2007 8:54:47 PM ET 2007-09-26T00:54:47

New Zealand’s Mount Ruapehu erupted, spewing out ash and rock that injured one climber and forced around 50 people to be evacuated off the mountain, local media reported on Wednesday.

The 10-minute eruption started at about 8.20 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a cloud of ash and dust to a height of 15,000 feet, Geological and Nuclear Sciences said.

The eruption also caused mudslides down the side of the mountain, which was the location of Middle Earth in the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy.

Mount Ruapehu, the highest mountain in New Zealand’s North Island at 9,177 feet, has one of the most active crater lakes in the world. In March a mudflow, or lahar, flowed down the side of the mountain after the crater lake overflowed.

Large eruptions in 1995 and 1996 blanketed the surrounding area in ash.

The injured climber and three companions were in a hut near the summit when rocks came crashing through the roof, The Dominion Post newspaper reported. The climber, who sustained leg injuries, was taken down the mountain by vehicle.

Ski lodges at the Whakapapa ski-field on the northern side of the mountain were evacuated as a precaution, and that area will remain closed.

Two lahars were recorded, which flowed down the northern and eastern sides of the mountain, Civil Defense authorities said.

In 1953 a lahar swept away a railway bridge at Tangiwai and 151 people were killed when an Auckland to Wellington train plunged into a river.

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