by Staff Writers
Puebla, Mexico (AFP) May 9, 2012
Ashes from Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano forced officials to close the airport in nearby Puebla for some 14 hours, to allow for cleanup after it spewed out heaps of ash and rock.
The Puebla International Airport was able to reopen Wednesday after dozens of workers cleared its runways of volcanic ash that posed a risk to departing and arriving aircraft, said officials.
The airport's closing caused just one cancellation, a flight to Houston, Texas early Wednesday, said Puebla's civil protection director Jesus Morales.
Since Popocatepetl came to life several weeks ago, it has spewed gas and glowing rock as much as one mile (1.6 kilometers) beyond its crater, and has intermittently belched out water vapor and ash.
Officials in this central Mexican state have prepared temporary shelters as a precaution and locals were wearing face masks to protect their lungs from ashes in a populous area around the volcano.
The city of Puebla lies in the shadow of the volcano about 55 kilometers (35 miles) from the federal capital Mexico City.
The country's second highest peak, Popocatepetl, means "smoking mountain" in the indigenous Nahuatl language.
After moderate activity during most of the 20th century, the mountain registered intense rumblings beginning in 1994, with the strongest coming in December 2000, when nearby communities were evacuated.
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