Volcano erupts in southern Chile, 3,000 people evacuated
SANTIAGO - Agence France-Presse
View of the Volcano Villarrica in southern Chile which began erupting on March 03, 2015 forcing the evacuation of some 3,000 people in nearby villages, the government said. AFP PhotoA volcano in southern Chile began erupting early March 3 forcing the evacuation of some 3,000 people in nearby villages, the government said.
The Villarrica volcano, one of Chile's most active, began erupting around 3:00 am (0600 GMT), prompting authorities to declare a red alert and cancel classes in schools, the National Emergency Office said.
As sirens sounded, Chilean TV footage showed lava spilling from the volcano about 800 kilometers (500 miles) south of the capital Santiago.
Tall plumes of ash spewed from the volcano, stretching three kilometers above sea level.
But hours later there were no longer any visible signs of eruption. Still, President Michelle Bachelet appealed for calm and authorities blocked roads leading to the area around the volcano, which is about 2,800 meters high.
"I am calling for calm. We are monitoring and evaluating the situation closely," Bachelet said following a meeting with the country's emergency committee.
Villarrica is considered one of the most active volcanoes in all of South America, and draws crowds of tourists each year, with hikers climbing its slopes in the summer months to see inside its crater. Its last major eruptions were in 1984 and 2000.