Chilean authorities issue red alert as Calbuco volcano erupts for the first time in decades, spewing ash and smoke.
For the first time in more than five decades, the Volcano Calbuco in southern Chile erupted on Wednesday. The Chile Onemi emergency office declared a red alert following the sudden eruption of Calbuco.
The eruption happened about 625 miles south of Santiago, which is the capital, close by the tourist hotspot Puerto Varas. About 4,000 people had evacuated from the area and an evacuation radius of 20km has been established, authorities said.
Chile’s Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo gave a televised address after the volcano erupted, calling for calm. Penailillo said the military was being sent into Llanquihue province to help evacuate people and keep order.
He added that water was being sent to the area, as it was unclear how much ash may have fallen and contaminated water supplies.
Later, Penailillo said there had been no reports of deaths, missing persons or injuries.
Gabriel Orozco, a volcanologist for Chile’s geological and mining service said;
“In this situation, with the eruption column so high, the main risk is that it collapses, falls due to gravity because of its own weight and causes a pyroclastic flow.”
Pyroclastic flow is when a current of gas is super heated, and can destroy almost anything in it’s path. A pyroclastic flow normally travels at a speed between 120 and 200 miles per hour.
Puerto Montt, the largest city in the area, had to cancel flights to and from the city due to the large amount of volcanic ash. The thick volcanic ash has the capability to cause serious damage to airplanes, along with making flying more dangerous in general.
The last time the the volcano erupted was in 1961, but in March Volcano Villarrica erupted in southern Chile. Chile lays on the Pacific “Rim of Fire”. It has the second largest chain of volcanoes in the world, with almost 500 of those being potentially active. Indonesia is home to the largest chain of volcanoes in the world.