Saturday, March 31, 2007

Peru residents are affected by volcanic eruption

Just over a year after the Ubinas Volcano registered increased activity, a strong explosion was felt and seen by townspeople early this morning, causing panic in the towns adjacent to the volcano, located in the Andean department of Moquegua, Peru.

According to town resident Roxana Amachi, the explosion occurred at approximately 5:15 a.m. this morning and afterwards, a large plume of smoke of observed from the volcano's summit."We observed falling rocks, a long column of smoke, and then we were hit with a blanket of falling ash which has caused problems to our eyes and noses," stated Amachi who lives in the town of Anascapa, located just 6 kilometers away from the Ubinas Volcano.

Anascapa town authorities passed out protective masks to residents, however, due to the limited supply, authorities were not able give every resident a mask.Amachi also informed that many residents of towns located around the base of the volcano returned to their homes believing that the 'worst had passed.'Marco Rivera, an expert from Peru's Geological, Mining, and Metallurgic Institute (INGEMMET in Spanish) indicated to Andina News Agency that the volcano has experienced an increase of activity during the past weeks, with today's explosion being the strongest.

The geological expert stated that monitoring efforts will be stepped up in the wake of the increased activity."At the beginning of the month, small explosions occurred every 6-8 days, but now that rate has gone up considerably," stated Rivera after revealing that a smaller explosion was registered at 2:40 a.m. this morning.

The INGEMMET representative indicated that a report on the status of Ubinas will be released later today.The Ubinas Volcano is located at an altitude of 5,400 meters (17,716 feet) above sea level and is located in the province of Sanchez-Carrion. Two major eruptions have been recorded in its past.

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