August 26, 2010

Galeras Volcano Erupts Causing Ash, Evacuations

Authorities in Colombia were forced to order the evacuation of thousands of residents after the Galeras Volcano erupted on Wednesday, but only a few took heed and headed for shelters, according to a recent Reuters report.

Galeras, located in the Colombian Andes near the border of Ecuador, spewed ash over neighboring towns, but so far no injuries or damages have been reported by authorities after the latest eruption.

About 8,000 residents live in the danger zone, but many often refuse to leave because they are used to the volcano's frequent activity and they also fear their homes will be robbed.

In previous eruptions, residents in the area reported large columns of smoke billowing over the volcano and layers of ash covering surrounding towns. The volcano erupted ten times last year, mostly causing insignificant damage.

Colombia's coffee federation, the world's top producers of high-quality Arabica beans, had no reports of damage to crops in the region, according to a federation spokeswoman.

The National Geological Institute said it would keep monitoring the volcano before deciding whether to lift the warning it issued after the morning eruption.

Cesar David Lopez, a researcher at NGI, told Reuters that the ash was slowing although it was still spewing out. "The area is normal except for the areas where ash hit earlier in the day."

The nearest larger town, Pasto, has a population of 400,000 but us generally far enough away from the area considered at risk from a volcanic eruption from Galeras.

Galeras last erupted in January of this year. Authorities ordered an evacuation and nobody was killed or injured. A massive eruption killed ten people in 1993 just as a science mission was examining the crater.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia