June 6, 2011 in Nation/World

Volcano in Chile spews out stone, ash

Eva Vergara Associated Press
 
Picture story: Puyehue volcano in Chile erupts
Associated Press photo

The Puyehue volcano, some 620 miles south of Santiago, Chile, started erupting Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

SANTIAGO, Chile – A volcano in the Caulle Cordon of southern Chile erupted for a second day Sunday, shooting out pumice stones and pluming a cloud of ash six miles high and three miles wide.

Flights in the region were canceled and more than 3,500 people stayed away from their homes near the volcano, which produced an eerie overnight show of lightning dancing through its clouds of ash.

Most of the residents in 22 settlements near the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex evacuated when the eruption began Saturday and were staying in government shelters or friends’ homes. One group of 122 people was being moved from a shelter for fear that the eruption could cause flooding on the Nilahue River.

There were no reports of injuries.

Rodrigo Ubilla, Chile’s undersecretary of labor, said some people near the volcano had decided not to leave their homes because they didn’t want to abandon their animals.

Wind carried ash across the Andes into Argentina until Sunday afternoon, dropping a blanket of ash on the tourist town of San Carlos de Bariloche, which closed its airport. Officials there urged people to use cover their mouths and noses against the ash, to stock up on food and water and stay indoors.

A shift in wind Sunday began dropping more ash on Chile’s side of the border.

The eruption is nearly 620 miles south of Chile’s capital, Santiago.

Authorities put the area on alert Saturday morning after a flurry of earthquakes, and the eruption began in the afternoon. The National Emergency Office recorded an average of 240 tremors an hour for the first 12 hours, but that dropped to about 17 an hour by Sunday, Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said.

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