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article imageEruption of long dormant Chilean volcano forces evacuations

By Igor I. Solar     Jun 6, 2011 in World
Osorno - At least 3,600 people have been evacuated in Southern Chile following the eruption of the Puyehue-Caulle volcanic complex. Large plumes of ash reaching about 10 km into the sky have affected extensive areas of Chile and neighbouring Argentina.
The eruption of the Puyehue volcano began at about 14:30 hrs. Saturday afternoon (June 4) following several earthquakes of magnitude 3 and 4 Richter. About 230 earthquakes every hour were registered in the vicinity of the volcano located in Los Ríos Region of Chile, about 800 km south of Santiago. Ash clouds reached the city of Bariloche in Argentina forcing the closure of the airport. At approximately 16:30 hrs local time, the Neuquén Airport was also closed due to the ash cloud.
Although the eruption has been attributed to the Puyehue volcano, it is not clear if it is restricted to this volcano or if it extends to the Caulle Mountain Range, an adjacent volcanic fissure. The Caulle complex has erupted many times in recorded history. The last eruption occurred in 1960 causing widespread destruction, while the Puyehue volcano has remained dormant longer.
The Chilean National Emergencies’ Office (ONEMI) issued a "red alert" for several localities near the volcano. About 3600 people have been evacuated. It was reported (Radio Bio Bio, in Spanish) that, at first, large land and business owners in rural areas near the volcano didn't allow workers to be evacuated.
The ash cloud moved towards the south-east crossing Chile's borders and precipitated over the Argentine town of Villa la Angostura, the city of Bariloche and northern sections of the Chubut province. The eruption was accompanied by lightning and strong thunderstorms. (The Globe and Mail, Photo Gallery).
There are no reports of deaths or injuries. Chilean authorities have ordered nearby residents to stay indoors. The evacuated persons are being relocated in temporary shelters in safe areas.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, who arrived on Sunday following his vacation in Italy, said on June 5 that he would “visit the area if it becomes necessary”, reports radio Bio-Bio (in Spanish).
More about Volcano eruption, Chile volcano, Earthquake, Puyehue volcano, Caulle Mountain Range
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