RABAUL, Papua New Guinea, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The small village of Rabaul on Papua New Guinea's New Britain Island has been spared extensive damage from a potentially devastating volcanic eruption.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that Mount Tavurvur, on the outskirts of Rabaul, erupted Saturday with a violent blast, shattering windows as far as seven miles away.

ABC reported that boats evacuated about 200 people in Rabaul and nearby towns as the peak spewed ash, rock and billows of smoke high into the air.

Local hotel owner Bruce Alexander told ABC that if it were not for favorable winds, the damage could have exceeded that of the 1994 eruption that devastated Rabaul so extensively that the government was forced to construct a new capital, Kokopo, 12 miles away.