MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Villagers have returned to their homes on the
slopes of Mexico's Colima volcano, despite warnings that the bursts of ash
and rivers of lava that forced them to flee last month could just be a prelude.
About 180 residents returned Tuesday to La Yerbabuena, a town in western
Colima state that was evacuated 15 days before and where soldiers
remained on guard against further volcanic activity.
"The danger posed by the volcano has diminished," Colima civil protection
official Javier Velasco said. "People can return to their daily lifestyles and
children can go back to school."
But some experts advised continued caution. Geologist Michael Sheridan
the University of Buffalo in New York said the Colima volcano could be
entering a period of activity that comes every four or five decades.
"Colima is going through its regular cycle, and it's approaching its climactic
phase, which is going to be very violent," he said. "It could happen this week
or it could happen within a month."
Meanwhile, the Popocatepetl Volcano near Mexico City also showed signs
of diminished activity, the National Center for Disaster Prevention said.
The "Popo", as local residents call it, had six brief bursts Tuesday morning,
sending small quantities of ash over nearby towns.
Soldiers have increased patrols to keep climbers and hikers at least 41/2
miles away from the Popo's crater.
Although no evacuations have been ordered, the Mexico City government
reportedly is setting up more than 100 shelters capable of housing 53,000
people in the event that they become necessary.
Copyright 1998 The Associated Press.