by Staff Writers
Puebla, Mexico (AFP) April 18, 2016
The huge Popocatepetl volcano near Mexico City spat burning ash over nearby towns on Monday and forced the closure of an airport, officials said.
The giant crater 55 kilometers (34 miles) from the capital belched out a three-kilometer high column of ash, the National Disaster Prevention Center said.
Overnight, around 0732 GMT, "an increase in activity was detected, accompanied by the continuous emission of burning fragments," it said.
The dust covered nearby villages and the central city of Puebla.
Authorities advised locals to stay indoors and keep at least 12 kilometers away from the 5,452-meter peak.
Officials said Puebla's international airport shut down operations on Monday morning so that workers could clear away fallen ash.
In 2000, people were evacuated from the area around Popocatepetl during a period of intense volcanic activity.
Some 4.5 million people live within 50 kilometers of the volcano.
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