Volcano erupts in southern Chile

2015-03-03 16:09
The Villarrica volcano, 1200 km from Santiago, in southern Chile which has begun erupting forcing the evacuation of around 3 000 people in nearby villages. (Carlos Rocuant, Atonchile, AFP)

The Villarrica volcano, 1200 km from Santiago, in southern Chile which has begun erupting forcing the evacuation of around 3 000 people in nearby villages. (Carlos Rocuant, Atonchile, AFP)

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Santiago - A volcano in southern Chile began erupting early on Tuesday forcing the evacuation of some 3 000 people in nearby villages, the government said.

The Villarrica volcano, one of Chile's most active, began erupting around 03:00 (06:00 GMT), prompting authorities to declare a red alert and cancel classes in schools, the National Emergency Office said.

As sirens sounded, Chilean TV footage showed lava spilling from the volcano about 800km south of the capital Santiago.

Tall plumes of ash spewed from the volcano, stretching three kilometres above sea level.

But hours later there were no longer any visible signs of eruption. Still, President Michelle Bachelet appealed for calm and authorities blocked roads leading to the area around the volcano, which is about 2 800m high.

"I am calling for calm. We are monitoring and evaluating the situation closely," Bachelet said following a meeting with the country's emergency committee.

Villarrica is considered one of the most active volcanoes in all of South America, and draws crowds of tourists each year, with hikers climbing its slopes in the summer months to see inside its crater.

Its last major eruptions were in 1984 and 2000.

Read more on:    chile  |  volcanoes

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