Thousands Evacuated as Mexico's Popocatepetl Erupts
Dec 19 — Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano spewed molten
rock for two hours early on Tuesday in its second overnight eruption, as
authorities sought to evacuate nearly 50,000 residents in three states
surrounding the mountain.
is stable but it still presents a high risk of another eruption,'' Interior
Minister Santiago Creel told a newsconference on Tuesday after the latest
flaming shower burst from the volcano 40 miles (64 km) from Mexico City's 18
Fox flew by helicopter to towns near the volcano and toured
evacuee shelters as government officials met to coordinate their response to the
The second eruption
occurred at 2 a.m. local time, (0800 GMT) and followed
Monday night's outburst of flaming rocks that leaped above the 17,884-foot
Slabs of molten
rock, some with a diameter as big as 1.5 feet (45 cm),
were shot some 650 feet (200 metres) into the sky above the volcano's
crater, authorities said.
One man, 65,
reportedly died from a heart attack during the first molten
shower on Monday, which lasted more than an hour.
Creel said no
other injuries had occurred as authorities evacuated some
26,000 people in the states of Puebla, Morelos and Mexico to 180
working to evacuate a total of 48,000 within a 7.4-mile
(12-km) radius around the volcano, he said.
Fox, who took office on Dec. 1, said in an emergency
announcement late on Monday in which he called for calm, ``We are
continuing on maximum alert.''
Fox said his
interior and defense ministers were working together on
contingency plans should the volcano's activity increase.
living around Popocatepetl, or ``smoking mountain'' in
the indigenous Nahuatl language, had refused to leave their homes as
evacuation efforts got under way over the weekend.volcano looked like
ghost towns, with the roads into them manned by Army patrols. The
airport in Puebla city was closed.
``I think that
the people will have a reason now to leave their homes and
villages,'' Puebla state Gov. Melquiades Morales said in an interview on
local radio Monday night. He did not discount the possibility of a forced
evacuation if necessary.
Experts had determined
that a dome of lava had formed in the crater of
the volcano that could cause a buildup of pressure and lead to stronger
emissions than in recent days.
``The force of
the gas rising is causing these violent explosions through
the dome of lava,'' said Roberto Quaas, director of Mexico's National
Center for Prevention of Disasters (Cenapred).
The volcano ``Popo,''
as it is known locally, was inactive from 1927 to
1994, when there was a moderate eruption. Since then it has been
increasingly active, sending up smoke and ash columns. In November
1998 the volcano spewed fragments of lava rock.