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Panic and chaos as Argentina, Chile brace for volcano eruption
by Staff Writers
Buenos Aires (UPI) May 30, 2013

Expert warns of new activity at deadly Philippine volcano
Legaspi, Philippines (AFP) June 01, 2013 - A Philippine volcano that killed five people last month in a huge ash explosion is showing renewed signs of activity, a government volcanologist warned Saturday.

The picturesque Mayon volcano is bulging near its edifice, emitting more gas, and has a noticeable glow at its cone, resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta said.

"Activity has slightly increased and if there is a further escalation, it would mean raising the alert level around the volcano," he said.

Mayon, one of the Philippines' most active volcanoes, spewed a giant ash cloud and hail of rocks on May 7, killing four foreign climbers and their Filipino guide.

While the volcano, located about 330 kilometres (200 miles) southeast of Manila, does not show signs of an imminent eruption, it could experience another ash explosion or even volcanic quakes that could endanger climbers.

"Even if there is no explosion, there may be rockfalls, rockslides from the quakes," Laguerta said.

Since the deaths last month, the local government has imposed climbing restrictions, but these rules are difficult to enforce, said Laguerta.

The 2,460-metre (8,070-foot) Mayon is famed for its near-perfect cone but has a long history of deadly eruptions.

In 1814, more than 1,200 people were killed when lava flows buried the town of Cagsawa.

The volcano erupted in August 2006. There were no direct deaths caused by the explosion, but the following December a passing typhoon unleashed an avalanche of volcanic mud from its slopes that killed 1,000 people.

Pacaya volcano erupts in Guatemala
Guatemala City (AFP) May 30, 2013 - Guatamala's Pacaya volcano erupted early Thursday, sending volcanic material more than 400 meters in the air, authorities said.

The Institute of Vulcanology warned that the eruption could intensify with ash rising as high as 1,000 to 2,000 meters, posing a threat to air traffic at Guatemala's international airport.

"Ash could spread over Guatemala City due to the direction of the wind," the country's disaster response office said in a statement.

The last major eruption of Pacaya in May 2010 claimed the life of a television journalist, drove thousands of people from their home, and forced the closure of the Guatemala City airport for five days.

The 8,373-foot (2,552 meter) high Pacaya is 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital. It is one of three active volcanoes in Guatemala.

Argentina and Chile braced for more chaotic conditions as authorities battled to secure an orderly evacuation of people living in communities in a border area at risk from a restive volcano.

Attempts to complete the evacuation of more than 3,000 residents from communities near the 9,700-foot Copahue Volcano in Chile were hampered by arguments over the evacuees' livestock and the animals' safe transit.

Farmers with scant personal possessions other than cattle and other farm animals challenged evacuation plans.

Long delays were made worse by heavy rainfall and snow, The Santiago Times in the Chilean capital reported.

Some evacuees reached the town of Ralc near Copahue and the Ralco National Reserve in the central Chilean region of Bio Bio.

Officials warned the volcano could erupt any time after a series of tremors and gas clouds from the crater hit the area.

Chile's National Geology and Mining Service said it recorded an "upward trend" in seismic activity in the volcano.

Both governments issued a "red alert" as they set about evacuating people from localities near the volcano. More than 600 people were ordered to leave Argentine villages and towns near the Copahue, including the Patagonian ski resort of Caviahue in Argentina.

"This evacuation is obligatory, it's not voluntary," Chilean Interior and Security Minister Andres Chadwick said.

Safety measures have included evacuation of people and farm animals within a 15-mile radius of the volcano.

The Copahue volcano was last active in December but went quiet after several gas eruptions. The affected area overlaps Chile's Bio Bio region and Argentina's Neuquen province.

News of the volcano was overshadowed in Argentina by anti-government demonstrations and strikes. Protesters are demanding income tax reforms and rise in pensions and wages.

Gov. Jorge Sapag of the Neuquen province said, "The volcano will have the last word" and urged everyone not to speculate about the eruption might start.

He defended the governments' decision to issue a red alert, which was a response to the experts' reading of the volcanic activity.

"The decision to shift to red alert evacuation was a wise (one), because the magma is rising," Sapag told news media.

He said "microearthquakes are still occurring, a critical mass is rising through the conduit of the volcano, so we have to be attentive to see if the final process of the volcano is solid, liquid or gaseous," MercoPress reported.

Copahue had a major eruption in 1992, Chilean Mining Ministry data indicated. The volcano began stirring again in 2002, its strongest activity in more than 20 years, reported on its website.

About 500 of more than 3,000 volcanoes in Chilean Andes are said to be active. Nevados Ojos del Salado on the Argentine-Chilean border is the world's highest active volcano, last reported to have spewed lava about 1,000 years ago, though details of the event remain sketchy.


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Chile begins evacuation near volcano
Santiago (AFP) May 28, 2013
Chile on Tuesday began the evacuation of some 2,200 people living near the Copahue volcano close to the border with Argentina despite a decrease in seismic activity. The National Geology and Mining Service said that while volcanic activity had diminished, the rise of underground magma had likely passed a "point of no return" and warned of a possible explosive eruption. Authorities have s ... read more

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