Niger probes volcanic-like activity in north

NIAMEY Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:59pm EDT

NIAMEY Aug 25 (Reuters) - Nigerian authorities and France's Areva group have sent experts to investigate eruptions, smoke and fumes spouting from a mountain in the West African nation's northern uranium mining district of Arlit, state media said.

Earlier this week, residents reported two days of activity. Experts dispatched to take samples found cracks in the mountainside and rocks 400 metres away. There were no reports of injuries or damage to mines.

"According to the witnesses who alerted the authorities, when they heard explosions, they initially thought it was an earthquake or a volcanic eruption," state radio said in a report.

"The mountain rumbled, giving the impression that it was collapsing. Black smoke rose and there was a smell of gas, as it was coming from fuel," the report added.

State radio said local government authorities and geologists and chemists from Areva, which has several uranium mining interests in the region, visited the mountain on Tuesday to take samples.

The northeast of Arlit is home to the Air mountains, but volcanic activity in the area is long thought to have ended. There were no further details immediately available. (Reporting by Abdoulaye Massalatchi; writing by David Lewis)

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