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Ash storm after 6 eruptions

RITA Jackson said she was taking a sip of coffee when she tasted something funny on her lips - ash. Alaska's Mount Redoubt's first cluster of eruptions in nearly 20 years - six were detected between Sunday night and Monday night - sent a volcanic ash plume more than 14 kilometers into the air.

Ash missed the state's largest city, but dusted small communities north of Anchorage. The National Weather Service had an ash advisory in effect until 5am yesterday for the Susitna Valley. There were no reported injuries.

The wind took ash away from Anchorage, toward Willow and Talkeetna, near Mount McKinley, North America's largest mountain.

Jackson, in Willow, was experiencing other effects in addition to ruined coffee. "My eyes are itching really bad," she said.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory reports that the sixth eruption came at 7:41pm on Monday. The five earlier eruptions came late Sunday night and into Monday morning. This activity could continue for weeks or months, United States Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said during a teleconference on Monday.

Alaskans had been warned of a pending eruption of the volcano about 160km southwest of Anchorage since it became restless in late January. People have stocked up on masks, air filters and disaster supplies.

Ash from Alaska's volcanos is like a rock fragment with jagged edges and has been used as an industrial abrasive. It can injure skin, eyes and breathing passages.

The young, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are especially susceptible to ash-related health problems. Ash can also cause damage engines in planes, cars and other vehicles.


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