3,500 evacuate as volcano erupts in southern Chile

Posted June 05, 2011, at 12:04 p.m.

SANTIAGO, Chile — A volcano in the Caulle Cordon of southern Chile has erupted violently, billowing smoke and ash high into the sky and prompting more than 3,500 people living nearby to evacuate and forcing cancellation of flights. Ash and gas continued to billow from the earth on Sunday.

There were no reports of injuries from Saturday’s eruption.

A column of gas six miles (10 kilometers) high and three miles (five kilometers) wide rose from Puyehue-Cordon Caulle complex, according to Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service.

Chilean authorities evacuateed some 3,500 people from 22 settlements near the volcano, which produced an eerie show of lightning dancing through its clouds of ash overnight.

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Rodrigo Ubilla, Chile’s undersecretary of labor, said some people near the volcano had decided not to leave their homes because they didn’t want to abandon their animals.

Wind carried ash across the Andes to the Argentina, dusting the tourist town of San Carlos de Bariloche, which had to close its airport. Officials there urged people to use cover their mouths and noses against the ash, to stock up on food and water and stay indoors if possible.

The eruption is nearly 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Chile’s capital, Santiago.

Authorities had put the area on alert Saturday morning after a flurry of earthquakes, and the eruption began in the afternoon. The National Emergency Office said it had recorded an average of 230 tremors an hour.


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