May 21, 2002

Officials upgrade warnings about Mexico's 'Volcano of Fire'

                 MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- Officials upgraded their warnings about
                 Mexico's "Volcano of Fire" on Monday, saying that increasing tremors and
                 other signs pointed toward a possibly large explosion at the 3,820-meter
                 (12,533-foot) volcano.

                 Five hamlets on the volcano's flanks already have been evacuated and villages
                 within 11.5 kilometers (7 miles) of the crater are on alert.

                 Scientists at the University of Colima issued a bulletin saying that increasing
                 tremors within the volcano and signs such as ground deformation and changing
                 water chemistry had increased the probability of an eruption somewhere between
                 the size of those in 1999 and one in 1913.

                 The 1999 eruptions sent glowing rock five kilometers (three miles) down the
                 volcano's slopes and sent up a plume of ash more than eight kilometers (5 miles)

                 The 1913 explosion created a crater 500 meters (1,650 feet) deep, blasted
                 fast-moving flows of hot ash down the volcano's slopes and rained ash on
                 Guadalajara, 130 kilometers (75 miles) to the north.

                 There were no visible signs of change on Monday and clouds covered the volcano's
                 peak most of Monday, making it difficult to see the crater.

                 On Saturday, some 70 residents were evacuated from the Jalisco state towns of
                 Juan Barragan, El Agostadero, El Borbollon and Los Machos, located about 14
                 kilometers (10 miles) from the creater and neighboring Colima state evacuated
                 Yerbabuena, a hamlet of 200 people located near the peak of the volcano.

                 The volcano, 300 miles (490 kilometers) west of Mexico City, is located on the
                 border of the two states.

                 Dozens of residents were evacuated in February from towns in both states after hot
                 rocks began rolling down the volcano's slopes. No one was injured.

                 Vulcanologists consider the Colima volcano to be one of the most active and
                 potentially the most destructive of the volcanoes in central Mexico.

                 It has staged violent eruptions dozens of times since its first recorded eruption in

                  Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.