May 31, 2005

Large New Blast From Mexican Volcano

MEXICO CITY -- An explosion shook a volcano in western Mexico Monday, sending a plume of ash and smoke 3 miles into the air and scattering hot rocks on its slopes.

It was the largest eruption in at least 15 years at Mexico's most active volcano, said Carmen Segura Rangel, coordinator of civil defense for Mexico's Interior Department.

Segura said an off-limits zone would be expanded to 4 1/2 miles around the crater - from 4 miles - though there were no evacuations at the nearest communities, just beyond the new zone.

The government of nearby Jalisco state said the explosion was slightly larger than one that shook the 12,533-foot volcano earlier this month.

He said there was no immediate danger to settlements closest to the mountain, which is about 500 miles west of Mexico City, but added that similar eruptions were likely in the future.

The peak, part of the Colima Volcano complex, is considered one of the most violent in Mexico. A 1913 blast that created a crater 1,650 feet deep.