Puyehue Volcano Erupts In Chile With Sparks And Lightning

The Chilean volcano which erupted on Monday has sent a towering trail of ash across South America, forcing thousands from their homes, grounding airline flights in southern Argentina and coating ski resorts with a gritty layer of dust instead of snow.

Booming explosions echoed across the Andes as toxic gases belched up from a three-mile-long fissure in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex - a point between two craters just west of the Chilean-Argentine border that began erupting Saturday.

Winds blew a six-mile high cloud of dust all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and even into southern Buenos Aires province, hundreds of miles to the northeast. Authorities in Chile went house to house, trying to convince stragglers near the volcano to evacuate because of an increasing danger of toxic gas and flash floods.

Winds fanned the ash toward neighboring Argentina, darkening the sky in the ski resort city of San Carlos de Bariloche, in the centre of the country, and its airport has also been closed.

The explosion in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, about 575 miles south of the capital, Santiago, also provoked authorities to close a busy border crossing into Argentina.

It was not instantly clear which of the chain's four volcanoes had erupted because of ash cover and weather conditions. The chain last saw a major eruption in 1960.

Local media said the smell of sulphur hung in the air and there was steady seismic activity. As a precaution, the government said it was evacuating 3,500 people from the surrounding area.

Chile's chain of about 2,000 volcanoes is the world's second largest after Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 are on record as having erupted, and 500 are probably active.
Bookmark and Share