April 2015 – CHILE – When Volcano Calbuco erupted in Chile on Wednesday for the first time in five decades, everyone within a 12 mile radius was evacuated immediately. The ash cloud from the explosion, however, reached 9 miles into the sky and has already covered much of the continent. Flights from Argentina have been canceled as experts say the ash is heading over the Andes mountains and could reach as far as the Buenos Aires province — 1500 km to the east — by next week. The volcano itself is still puffing out ash and smoke, Reuters reported. A 2011 volcanic eruption in Chile sent ash so high up into the atmosphere that flights flying out of Australia were canceled as a safety precaution. The small village of Ensenada, Chile and some towns in Argentina have been blanketed with a thick layer of ash and soot capable of causing respiratory infections and contaminating water, the Guardian reported.
The weight of the ash has caused roofs to cave in. While most of Ensenada has been evacuated, about 30 people have remained behind, not wanting to leave their homes or their animals. “We woke up today with a blanket of fog and it hasn’t cleared,” a resident of Puerto Varas, Chile told the Guardian. “We have a layer of smoke above us.” Officials have warned residents of the affected towns that a third “and even more aggressive” explosion is likely, “We are praying that the volcanic activity will be as short as possible,” said Villa La Angostura, Argentina mayor Roberto Cacault. –Business Insider
Mudflow dangers: Authorities urged 2,000 people living near the Calbuco volcano to evacuate Friday after potentially devastating mudflows of volcanic debris were detected in a nearby river, the result of two huge eruptions this week that sent ash across large swaths of southern South America. Chilean officials said the evacuations were precautionary but necessary because flows of volcanic mud, known as lahars, are capable of levelling anything in their path once in motion. The area had been evacuated after the volcano first erupted Wednesday afternoon, but by Friday many people had begun to return home even as Calbuco continued to billow lesser ejections of smoke and ash. Authorities said the evacuees from the towns of Chamiza, Lago Chapo and Correntoso would stay at shelters in the nearby city of Puerto Montt. “I’m worried about the lava because we’re right below it all,” said Jorge Vargas, a farmer from a nearby town who was forced to flee to a shelter with his wife and children, leaving behind their dogs, sheep and cows.
“My children are very scared. They just want to go back home, but we can’t because of the (volcanic) gases.” The volcano, which had been dormant four decades, sent a plume of ash about 18 kilometres high during Wednesday’s blast. A second, spectacular outburst came early Thursday, with lightning crackling through a dark sky turned reddish orange by the explosion. The head of the National Mining and Geology Service said Friday that the volcano’s eruptive process could last weeks and even months and warned that a third eruption was possible. “What I can say for certain is that this process is not going to end now,” the service’s director, Rodrigo Alvarez, said. “It’s highly likely that we will have other eruptions, maybe not with the same amount of energy, but with activity that can be worrisome.” The two mighty blasts left Ensenada a ghost town, abandoned by most of its 1,500 residents. Sitting at the foot of the volcano, the town was covered in thick soot and some roofs collapsed under the weight of the ash. –CTV News