LATIN AMERICA

Volcanic eruption in Chile forces evacuation of thousands

Authorities hand out food and warn that Calbuco could still spew out more smoke and ash

Agencias
Santiago de Chile - 24 abr 2015 - 15:21 UTC
View of the Calbuco volcano in Puerto Varas, Chile on April 24, 2015.
View of the Calbuco volcano in Puerto Varas, Chile on April 24, 2015.REUTERS

The government of Chile has reported that 4,514 people have been evacuated and 237 sent to temporary shelters due to the eruption of the Calbuco volcano, located in the southern region of Los Lagos.

An exclusion zone extending 20 kilometers around the volcano is being maintained to protect the local population, said Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo at a press conference inside the National Emergency Bureau (Onemi).

A relief effort is underway to provide the residents of Los Lagos with mattresses, food and blankets, while people in the region of Araucanía received face masks to protect themselves from the falling ash, the minister said.

A relief effort is underway to provide the residents of Los Lagos with mattresses, food and blankets

The National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin) reported late on Thursday that the latest analyses show the existence of six craters, of which four are considered minor.

Data analysis based on information being relayed by monitoring stations near Calbuco suggests that the volcano remains unstable and new eruptions could occur.

Ashes spewed out by Calbuco have already reached Curicó, a city located 839 kilometers from the volcano and 207 kilometers south of the capital, Santiago de Chile, the meteorology service reported.

The natural phenomenon created an enormous plume of smoke, ash and rock rising over 15 kilometers high

Calbuco, which rises to an altitude of 2,015 meters at a spot 1,000 kilometers from Santiago, caught Chile by surprise with a violent eruption on Wednesday.

The natural phenomenon created an enormous plume of smoke, ash and rock rising over 15 kilometers high.

A second eruption was registered early Thursday morning, although the volcano’s energy levels seems to be receding, according to the Sernageomin agency.

Flights to and from the popular tourist destination of Puerto Montt have resumed after being temporarily canceled, although airlines remain on alert due to the speed at which the ash cloud is moving.

Although no major damage has been reported, local television newscasts showed how the tons of solid matter thrown up by the Calbuco destroyed several homes and businesses in the town of Ensenada.