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Montevideo, June 5th 2023 - 13:25 UTC



Chilean volcano ashes reach Atlantic coast; all flights cancelled and schools closed

Monday, June 6th 2011 - 04:08 UTC
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The column of gas and ashes from the eruption was ten kilometres high The column of gas and ashes from the eruption was ten kilometres high

Southern Chile's Puyehue volcano was calm Sunday, one day after raining down ash and forcing thousands to flee, although the cloud of ash it had belched out still darkened skies as far away as neighbouring Argentina and was heading to the Atlantic coast.

A light drizzle rained down on the volcano Sunday, helping to mitigate the effects of the airborne ash somewhat, while the mountain appeared to go quiet one day after having rumbled to life after over half a century.

Puyehue is located 870 kilometres south of the capital Santiago in the Cordon Caulle complex of the Andes Mountains. Its last major eruption was in 1960, following a magnitude 9.5 earthquake.

“The city awakened in calm,” said Marcelo Cascon, mayor of Bariloche in Argentine Patagonia, 100 kilometres east from the volcano, and which had received a large deposit of volcanic ash spewed out from Puyehue on Saturday.

However Bariloche resort with a population of 50.000 remained under a state of emergency. Border patrols said that Argentina’s Route 40, Patagonia’s most important is covered with a layer of ash of 30 centimetres in the area close to Bariloche and Neuquén and advises no driving.

Bariloche schools and other public buildings will remain closed Monday in order to keep people inside their homes. Besides there will no commercial flights from and to Bariloche and Trelew at least until Wednesday, according to Argentina’s Civil Aviation National Administration.

Argentine airlines companies Aerolineas Argentinas and Austral announced they were suspending all flights to Bariloche, Chapelco and Esquel until next Sunday, and all flights to Trelew, Neuquén and Viedma until Wednesday.

Earlier, ashes spewed from the Puyehue Chilean volcano finally reached the Argentine Atlantic Coast, after leaving the Andes and Patagonia regions under a thick layer of ashes and stone.

Strong winds headed east pushed the ashes over the entire Patagonian territory, after initially covering Bariloche and Villa La Angostura and later reaching Puerto Madryn and Trelew, in Chubut, on the South Atlantic.

The Chilean National Service of Geology and Mining said the explosion that sparked Puyehue's eruption produced a column of gas 10 kilometres high.

”You can see the fire (in the volcano) and a plume of smoke, and there's a strong smell of sulphur,“ top Los Rios region official Juan Andres Varas told reporters.

The Chilean government ordered the evacuation of 3.500 people to be relocated to shelters in safe areas. An area of mostly farmers they were asking on Sunday that their cattle also be removed from the exposure to the eruption and ashes.

Yeimi Obando, a professor who was evacuated, told National Television of Chile on Saturday that people ”are very worried” about the effect of ash on their cattle and other animals.

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