Chile said on Wednesday it was evacuating residents from around the Hudson volcano in the country far south after it spewed a jet of steam a kilometre into the air and seismic activity triggered an avalanche.
The Hudson volcano last erupted in 1991, melting part of the glacier that sits on the crater, triggering mud flows and spewing ashes as far as the Falkland Islands.
However, the government said the Hudson, which lies around 1,600 km south of the Chilean capital Santiago, comes in the wake of a string of eruptions at other volcanoes in Chile.
We can’t rule out that this volcanic activity could increase in the coming hours and produce an eruption, said Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter.
He said state emergency office ONEMI was on red alert and the government was evacuating around 100 residents from the sparsely populated area as a precaution.
In June, a volcano in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, about 920 km south of Santiago, erupted. It had been dormant for decades.
It belched an ash cloud kilometres high that blew over the Andes, carpeted a popular ski resort in neighbouring Argentina and caused havoc for air traffic for months, hurting airline profits. The ash grounded planes as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
That eruption in turn came after Chile’s Chaiten volcano erupted spectacularly in 2008 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere. The ash swelled a nearby river and ravaged a nearby town of the same name.
Chile’s chain of about 2,000 volcanoes is the world’s second largest after that of Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 are on record as having erupted, and 500 are potentially active.