Volcano Villarrica erupts in southern Chile, villages evacuated

Updated: 2015-03-04 09:52


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Volcano Villarrica erupts in southern Chile, villages evacuated

Ash and lava spew from the Villarrica volcano, as seen from Pucon town in the south of Santiago, March 3, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

SANTIAGO - Volcano Villarrica in southern Chile erupted in the early hours of Tuesday, sending a plume of ash and lava high into the sky, and forcing the evacuation of nearby communities.

The volcano, located near the popular tourist resort of Pucon around 750 km (460 miles) south of the capital Santiago, is one of South America's most active. It last erupted in 2000.

A column of ash and rock particles shot up to 3 km (nearly 2 miles) into the night sky at around 3 a.m. (0600 GMT), said the national geological service Sernageomin. Some 3,385 people had been evacuated as a preventative measure, said Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo.

After day broke on Tuesday morning, TV pictures showed intermittent steam and gases spewing from a fumarole, or opening, on a side of the volcano and rivulets of lava coursing down the mountain slopes.

The eruption is a 'stromboli eruption', an event of relatively low impact characterized by low volumes of material reaching an altitude of less than 5 km (3 miles), said Sernageomin.

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