March 9, 2006

Volcano in Nicaragua Spews Gas, Ash

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - Nicaraguan civil defense authorities on Wednesday warned residents about a volcano that has been shooting off columns of gas and ash.

The activity had ceased by Wednesday morning and there were no immediate plans to evacuate communities near the 5,725-foot San Cristobal volcano in the province of Chinandega, 60 miles west of the capital of Managua.

The renewed activity began Monday night and involved small explosions alternating with mini-earthquakes, civil defense official Maj. Pablo Marenco said.

"It is launching abundant columns of gas and ashes on a constant basis," he said.

He said it was not as strong as in December, when the San Cristobal spewed ash over the communities.

"But we are on constant alert," Chinandega Civil Defense Chief Carlos Caceres said. "Nothing is foreseeable."

It is part of a range of four volcanoes that has been active since November 1999.