Sunday, April 22, 2007
Colombian volcano erupts, forcing evacuation
The Nevado del Huila volcano's eruptions were its first on record since Colombia was colonized by the Spanish 500 years ago.
There are about 10,000 people living in the area around the volcano, and about 3,500 had been evacuated, Luz Amanda Pulido, director of the national disaster office, told The Associated Press after flying over the volcano in southwest Colombia.
There were no reports of deaths or injuries.
The eruption sent an avalanche of rocks down the volcano's sides and into the Paez and Simbola rivers, causing them to flood.
"The bridges were swept away, the highway used by the indigenous in the zone was destroyed for various kilometers (miles) and the problem we have now is the lack of a route to deliver goods and medicines to the population," Police Gen. Orlando Paez said.
Experts were not ruling out more eruptions.
"The seismic activity remains light but permanent, and we can't rule out another bigger event in the next hours or days," said Mario Ballesteros, director of the government's Institute for Geology and Mining.
The Nevado del Huila, which is topped with a crown of ice, is Colombia's third-highest peak at 18,484 feet. Located 170 miles southwest of Bogota, it became active again in March with a series of internal rumblings.
In 1985, the town of Armero was wiped from the map and 25,000 people were killed when another volcano, the Nevado del Ruiz, exploded and set off a series of mudslides. It was Colombia's worst natural disaster.