February 20, 2009

Chile’s Chaiten Volcano Erupts Again

Chile's Chaiten volcano erupted on Thursday, sending clouds of ash into the air and area security officials have called for an evacuation of nearby towns.

Authorities have evacuated 160 people form the area of Chaiten, which lies six miles away from the volcano. However, many of the town's 4,500 former residents have refused to relocate the town, said the BBC.

"It is dangerous to stay in the area. They must leave," said Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma. "We have insisted for a long time now that it is completely irresponsible to keep living in the town."

"If they insist on staying there, they do so at their own risk," he added. "We can't keep risking public money or the lives of public workers to protect a few who don't want to face reality."

During last year's eruption, about 7,000 residents evacuated after the volcano erupted for the first time in thousands of years.

"Our security team has observed an increase in the size of a column of ash and smoke, with a deformation to one side," said Deputy Interior Minister Patricio Rosende.

"That leads us to presume that there is a collapse of one of the cones. This is more proof of the imminent risk in the area. It is a time-bomb."
Members of Chile's national emergency office, Onemi, flew over the volcano and noticed a partial collapse of its cone.

"Large quantities of gases and pyroclastic material were observed," Onemi said in a statement quoted by Reuters, adding that rains in the area combined with the ash could cause flooding in and around the town of Chaiten, located 760 miles south of the capital Santiago.

"There could be a major explosion that could collapse the volcano's cone," said Luis Lara of the National Geologic and Mining Service.
Chile is home to the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world. Experts say that about 20 of its more than 100 active volcanoes could erupt at any time.


Image Courtesy: Wikipedia


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