Mexico volcano spews ash on towns

2013-05-15 13:01

(Ronaldo Schemidt, AFP)

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Mexico City – Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano spewed a new column of ash late on Tuesday, with some of the material falling on three towns while glowing rocks landed on the towering mountain's slope.

The volcano, known locally as "Popo" and "Don Goyo," belched out a cloud of ash that rose four kilometers above its crater at 01:21 GMT on Wednesday, according to the National Disaster Prevention Centre.

The ministry said "light quantities of ash" dropped on Paso de Cortes, a Mexico state community at the foot of the volcano, and the towns of Atlixco and Huejotzingo in the state of Puebla, some 23km away.

Molten rocks were thrown one kilometer away, landing on the volcano's northern slope.

The smoke was blowing toward the northeast. Mexico City is 55km northwest of Popocatepetl.

The volcano had already spewed some ash and rocks on Tuesday morning but a senior official later reported that it had calmed down. The disaster prevention centre reported low-level activity later on, including a 40 minute low-intensity tremor.

The 5 452m high volcano has been rumbling and spewing steam, ash and rocks sporadically for days, prompting authorities to raise the alert level and prepare for possible evacuations last weekend.

Last week, Popocatepetl covered several towns in ash, including the capital of Puebla state.

Authorities have raised the alert level to "Yellow Phase Three," the fifth of a seven-stage warning system, restricting access to an area of 12km around the volcano while preparing evacuation routes and shelters.

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