Nicaragua volcano belches ash

Managua - A large volcano in western Nicaragua, Momotombo, on Tuesday belched ash and gas up to a kilometer in the sky, sparking fears that the giant could be waking from a fitful 110-year-old slumber.

Nicaraguan First Lady Rosario Murillo, who also serves as the government's spokesperson, confirmed the column of ash, but said during a visit to a state volcano research centre there was as yet no reports of lava flow.

Momotombo volcano stands 1 297m high, around 40km from the capital Managua, separated by a large lake called Lago Xolotlan.

Local residents have told media that the gases given off by the volcano were strong and were affecting at least five villages nearby.

Up to now, "Momotombo has been one of the calmest volcanoes" in the country, Murillo said. Its last big eruption dates back to 1905.

In 1980 the volcano emitted lava, but there was no eruptive explosion. In 2006 it emitted gases only.

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