Mexico residents prepare for volcano evacuation
LA BECERRERA, Mexico (AP) --Army troops stood ready to evacuate
hundreds of residents from towns on the flanks of Mexico's most active volcano
Sunday as scientists said building pressure signaled an imminent eruption of the
12,533-foot (3,820-meter) "Volcano of Fire."
During the last several days smoke, ash and vapor have been spewing
crater of the volcano in western Colima state.
Scientists said that within days or weeks, a huge dome of lava developing
crater would either collapse, sending hot rivers of lava and rock down the peak's
southern flanks, or explode, launching rock and ash into the surrounding area.
Internal explosions in the volcano in 1999 sent lava flowing three miles
kilometers) down the slopes, forcing the evacuation of nearly 500 people from 11
Residents are always barred from going within four miles (6.5 kilometers)
volcano. Since the lava dome has begun to expand, civil protection authorities are
blocking anyone who doesn't live in the area from going any closer than seven miles
White plumes of smoke curled skyward from the crater Sunday, a sign
was escaping. Area vulcanologists said seismic activity remained at stable,
Soldiers guarded the perimeters of the danger zone and manned the streets
towns in case of an evacuation, and some coffee workers were unable to work in
fields located within prohibited areas.
But it was a quiet Sunday for residents in the small villages of Yerbabuena
Becerrera, located five and six miles (eight and 10 kilometers), respectively, from the
Cattle grazed in the shadow of the smoking colossus and machete-wielding
cut fields of sugarcane, while townspeople attended Mass, swept the sidewalks or
chatted with neighbors on the sun-dappled streets.
"I've lived here all my life and I don't feel like there's any danger,"
Daniel Viscaino, a farmer, taxi driver and musician from La Becerrera, a town of
"As long as the smoke is coming out like that nothing's going to happen.
nature. No one but God can really say when our time is up."
Alvaro Lepe, 52, owns 100 hectares (250 acres) of sugar cane, pasture
fields in Yerbabuena, a hamlet of about 200 people. He said he's been keeping an eye
on the volcano for 20 years.
"While it has changed, in no moment has it been as scary as they say,"
nodding his straw-hatted head toward the volcano's peak as 30 workers labored in
the cane field behind him.
"Nature is very unpredictable," he said, adding that if there were a
"you'd see both animals and people running for their lives."
Vulcanologists consider the Colima volcano to be the most active and
most destructive of nine volcanoes located across the middle of Mexico. It has
staged violent eruptions dozens of times since its first recorded eruption in 1560.
About 300,000 people live within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of the volcano,
Colima city, the state capital, is within 20 miles (30 kilometers).
But researchers say, in recent times, lava has never descended below
(1,980 meters), well above the altitude of the current villages.
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.