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article imagePopocatépetl spews ash, Mexico prepares for possible evacuation

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By Leigh Goessl     Apr 18, 2012 in World
Puebla - Popocatépetl continues to remain awakened as the active volcano shot out ash and steam on Tues.
The volcano had originally begun to show stronger activity over the weekend, which had prompted local authorities to raise the alert level.
As Digital Journal reported yesterday, Mexican officials had raised the alert level from a yellow phase two, up to a yellow phase three; this is the third-highest warning.
According to Reuters, (courtesy of Chicago Tribune) due to this activity, on Tues. emergency personnel prepped for potential evacuations, and several area schools canceled classes as the temperamental Popocatépetl showed increased signs of possible eruption.
As Popocatépetl's dome expanded, Reuters reports, this suggests fresh magna may be forcing its way up, and "red-hot fragments and lightly dusted cars and streets" could be seen in some of the towns located around the vicinity of the volcano. Yesterday the volcano shot out ash and hot air for about 20 minutes.
"It sounded like a loud cauldron releasing steam," Reuters cameraman Roberto Ramirez said.
el Financiero reported head of the Federal District Government Marcelo Ebrard said "not to worry," (translated with Google Translate) but wants everyone to be on alert. The publication noted the last few hours had seen reduced volcanic activity, but officials are carefully watching Popocatépetl in the event alert levels need to be further increased.
Volcano Popocatepetl (in 2009)
Volcano Popocatepetl (in 2009)
NASA
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Currently, the local alert level remains at a Yellow Level 3 alert. International Business Times reported this means "they expect explosive activity of an intermediate to high scale." The next stage of alert would be a red alert, which would likely prompt evacuations.
Emergency workers have been setting up shelters in the event an evacuation is ordered.
Popocatépetl is known as an active volcano that doesn't appear to stay dormant for long, having had a few major eruptions in the last two decades. A major eruption in 2000 resulted in about 50,000 people to be evacuated.
"For the elderly, this is normal. Whatever the volcano wants to do is fine. But younger people, like myself, are always alert," said Jaime Romero, a construction worker in San Pedro, told Reuters.
MSNBC has published a photo blog that illuminates Popocatépetl's activity over the past several days and how people are responding to the spewing ash. One of the images shows a child helping another adjust a surgical mask, provided by the Red Cross.
Mexican officials are warning people to keep at least a seven mile perimeter clear and the region is now closed to visitors. If an explosion occurs, it could have a significant impact on locals and those as far as Mexico City, which is 40 miles away.
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More about Popocatépetl, Mexico, Evacuation, Volcano, Popocatépetl volcano
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