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Rain Washes Out Ash From Pacific Volcano

April 8, 2005

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (AP) _ Overnight rain washed away a dusting of ash from Anatahan Volcano, which continued to erupt on an uninhabited island just north of this tiny U.S. territory in the Pacific, authorities said Friday.

``We had a pretty good rain last night,″ which dissolved the ash that had settled on the capital island of Saipan, said Benjamin Cepeda, a public information officer with the commonwealth’s Emergency Management Office.

The volcano on Anatahan Island erupted Wednesday morning, sending a plume of ash 50,000 feet into the air.

``The eruption didn’t stop. But it has slowed down,″ said Juan Takai Camacho, a geophysical seismic technician with the emergency management office.

Commonwealth Health Center, Saipan’s largest medical facility, reported admitting a few people whose asthma was exacerbated by the ash.

Schools that were closed Wednesday reopened Thursday, and a couple of commuter flights that were grounded because of the ash were back in the air, Cepeda said.

The eruption is at least the fourth in the past two years. The Northern Mariana Islands, about 3,800 miles southwest of Hawaii, have nine active volcanoes. They are home to about 70,000 people.

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