Huge volcanic eruption in Chile puts the country in red alert

Huge volcanic eruption in Chile puts the country in red alert
The Calbuco volcano south of Chile has erupted and is spitting smoke and ash several kilometers into the air.

A huge, mushroom-shaped cloud of smoke is rising into the sky on the horizon in the Los Lagos region.

The government has issued a so-called red alert, which means that the eruption is a fact and that the risk that substantial amounts of ash will end up in the atmosphere is severe.

- It came as a surprise to us, says Alejandro Verges, who leads the emergency services in the area.

It has not yet been observed any lava from the eruption, but large amounts of smoke and ash. The smoke can be seen from a distance of 200 kilometers away.

Now it is feared that the smoke column from the eruption may collapse - which can lead to a so-called pyroclastic flow. If so, there will a super hot wave of gas and rocks spreading from the volcano, which can reach a speed of up to 200 to 300 km / h.

- With such a situation, where the column from the eruption is this high, the main risk is that it collapses and falls under its own weight and gravity, says volcanologist in the Chilean geology and mining agency, Gabriel Orozco, to a local television station.

In addition, he describes a high risk of flooding since ice and snow now melts in the area.

Authorities has closed the airport which is located in the area's largest city, Puerto Montt. There is much volcanic ash in the air, which can make aviation dangerous. Also schools in the area near the volcano are closed.

- People are very, very afraid, says the mayor of Puerto Montt, Gervoy Paredes.

The Calbuco Volcano is as the neighboring Osorno volcano among Chiles most active and is located 30 kilometers northeast of the port city of Puerto Montt, about 1,000 kilometers south of the capital Santiago.

The roughly 2,000-meter high volcano, in 1893 had the largest eruption in Chile's history, and it has had a series of major eruptions since, most recently in 1972.

The eruption is the second in a short time in Chile, where the Villarrica Volcano further north had a powerful eruption on March 3.

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