UPDATE1 — Thousands evacuated as Chilean volcano erupts


LAGO RANCO, CHILE (BNO NEWS) — Authorities on early Saturday afternoon ordered the emergency evacuation of more than 3,000 people after a volcano erupted in southeastern Chile, officials said.

The National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry (ONEMI) initially ordered the evacuation of around 700 people after a rapid increase of activity at the volcano. At one point, seismologists detected an average of 230 earthquakes per hour, 12 of which had a magnitude of more than 4.0 on the Richter scale.

Within several hours, officials said a large explosion was heard and enormous plumes of volcanic ash could be seen rising from the volcano. The Chilean National Service of Geology and Mining (SERNAGEOMIN) said the plumes have reached a height of approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

After the eruption began, Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said the area of evacuation was expanded to include approximately 3,500 people. A Red Alert was also declared for the region, but Hinzpeter described the evacuation as being in a ‘peaceful manner’.

Residents in the surrounding region, including cities and towns across the border in Argentina, reported ash falling. Photos and videos from the region showed streets covered with volcanic ash.

The last time the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle vents erupted was on May 24, 1960, 38 hours after a massive 9.5-magnitude earthquake struck off Chile. Earthquakes can sometimes cause volcanoes to erupt.

Chile is also on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region.

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