April 6, 2009

Chilean Volcano Explodes Causing Evacuations, Damage

Chile's Llaima volcano, 435 miles south of Chile's capital Santiago, began erupting again Friday night. The eruption shot ash 4 miles into the air that was then blown by the wind in the direction of Argentina provoking further evacuations.

Llaima also blew on January 1, 2008, and has continued to blast rock and ash ever since then.

State National Emergency Office ONEMI announced that a huge ash cloud was heading toward Argentina, expanding 62 miles southeast of the volcano.

"The volcano continues to permanently erupt with explosions, lava flows and ash," said Helia Vargas, an official at the Chile's National Emergency Office, to Reuters.

"More people were evacuated overnight because of the risk of mud avalanches as the lava melts snow on the volcano," she said. Lava continued to pour down the volcano in three different directions for hundreds of yards, Vargas noted.

ONEMI stated that 71 people have been evacuated from the area surrounding the volcano, including several small towns and the Conguillio national park.

Rains and ash have caused a river close to the volcano to bloat and has also caused the loss of a pedestrian bridge, but, so far, that is the only damage reported.

Chile's 2,000 volcano chain is the second-biggest worldwide after Indonesia's. About 50 to 60 of these are officially active with another 500 having the potential of being active.

The 10,253-foot Llaima was the second volcano to explode in 2009.

The Chaiten volcano exploded in May 2008 for the very first time in thousands of years, causing the evacuation of thousands of citizens.

Ash was launched 20 miles skyward, causing flooding that spoiled many homes and seriously damaged the nearby town of Chaiten. The ash cloud also headed towards Argentina and was observable from space.

Chaiten erupted once more in February 2009, causing evacuations of the citizens who refused a government idea to move the town a few miles away from the volcano.


Image Caption: January 2008 Llaima eruption.  Courtesy Wikipedia