Chilean volcano eruption causes evacuation

Feb. 20, 2009 at 3:06 PM

SANTIAGO, Chile, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- More than 150 people have been evacuated from the Chilean town of Chaiten after a nearby volcanic eruption, authorities said Friday.

Authorities told Mercopress once lava began traveling down the slopes of the Chaiten volcano Thursday following an eruption, the decision was made to order an evacuation of the nearby town.

Chilean Deputy Interior Minister Patricio Rosende called the volcano a "time bomb," adding it posed a significant risk to the region due to its increased activity.

"Our security team has observed an increase in the size of a column of ash and smoke, with a deformation to one side," Rosende said.

"That leads us to presume that there is a collapse of one of the cones. This is more proof of the imminent risk in the area. It is a time bomb."

Mecropress said while Chaiten was destroyed by a volcanic eruption last year, many residents have been reluctant to relocate the town.

A government expert on volcanoes agreed a major eruption could take place at the Chaiten site at any time.

"There could be a major explosion that could collapse the volcano's cone," Luis Lara of the National Geologic and Mining Service said to Mercopress.

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