Chile: Volcano eruption prompts evacuation

May 6, 2008 at 8:58 PM
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SANTIAGO, Chile, May 6 (UPI) -- A volcano in Chile continued to spew ash from its long-dormant cone Tuesday, prompting further calls for evacuations in the vicinity, officials said.

The eruption of the Chaiten volcano -- about 800 miles south of Chile's capital Santiago – caught many off guard as it is believed to have been hundreds, even thousands, of years since it last erupted.

Vulcanologists in Chile warned an even larger explosion could occur in the days to come, La Nacion reported Tuesday online.

Government officials implored Chileans living the area around the volcano to remain calm, though asked that they leave the area.

The volcanic rumblings first began Thursday night. Government officials wasted no time in declaring a state of emergency for the Los Lagos region.

All residents within 10 miles of the volcano were tabbed for immediate evacuation on large barges that transported them across the Ancud Gulf.

Residents of nearby areas have also been provided with protective masks to avoid inhaling particles from the ash cloud the volcano is spewing.

Following the initial burst of activity from the volcano, University of Colorado volcanology Professor Charles Stern said the Chaiten volcano has "probably been dormant for about 9,000 or 10,000 years but that's not unusual."

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