The Calbuco Volcano in southern Chile erupted for the first time since 1972 this week. As local inhabitants evacuate the premises, officials revealed that they are expecting another large volcano eruption in Chile – one that will occur today.
Spokesman for the National Geological and Mineral Service of Chile (NGMS) Helmuth Huerta told CNN that the seismic activity of the volcano is increasing, suggesting an eruption is imminent, and new advisories from the Chilean government warn that volcanic ash could reach up to 12,000 feet in the air, increasing the chance of the ash spreading throughout the region.
Anticipation Of Volcano Eruption In Chile
The Calbuco Volcano has already erupted twice this week in a period of 24 hours, blanketing some areas with as much as two feet of ash. A twelve mile radius evacuation order was put into place by the Chilean government, transforming places like the town of Ensenada into a ghost town, its 1,500 residents absent save for a stubborn 30 who wanted to look after their pets. Roofs have collapsed due to the weight of the ash, and some cars are blocked in up to the bumper.
Head of the NGMS Rodrigo Alvarez made a statement on Friday warning that the eruptions could last not only weeks, but months, leaving thousands of Chileans displaced and struggling to find shelter, food, and water; over 4,400 have been evacuated by the military and local police. No injuries have been reported, although a hiker has been reported missing. A witness at the scene explained that during first two explosions, there was mass panic and chaos as people drove to buy supplies and draw money out of ATMs.
Authorities have issued a red alert for the nearby towns of Puerto Montt and Puerto Varas, popular tourist destinations. In light of the new data from Thursday and Friday, Chilean president Michelle Bachelet issued a state of emergency, noting that the Calbuco Volcano is too unpredictable. Bachelet noted that the evacuation procedures have gone relatively well, so supplies and water are not a concern compared to the main problem: respiratory difficulties brought on by inhaling ash, which may create severe problems in the elderly. The second worry for Bachelet is the ash contaminating the surrounding environment and crops. The NGMS has warned that the third volcano eruption in Chile will likely be more aggressive than the first two.
Although not focused on the Calbuco volcano eruption in Chile, the film below highlights an adventurer’s intrepid trek up the Villarrica Volcano: