February 5, 2002

Mexico volcano forces evacuations

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) --Authorities in the western Mexico state of
Colima ordered the evacuation of about 220 people from a hamlet near the
Volcano of Fire after hot rocks began rolling down its slope early Tuesday.

Residents of Yerbabuena, a hamlet close to the peak, piled onto buses that took them
to shelters in towns further away from the 12,533-foot (3,820-meter) volcano,
which had been spewing smoke, ash and vapor for the last several days.

"We are carrying out the evacuation now," said Colima state civil defense official
Jose Torres. "There is a lot of fog, so that the peak is not visible from the ground,
but a reconnaissance aircraft is completing a survey of the volcano."

Soldiers helped people load their possessions aboard buses and some soldiers
remained behind to guard against possible looting.

The Volcano of Fire last erupted in 1999, sending glowing rock three miles (five
kilometers) down its slopes, but no injuries were reported.

Volcanologists say that a huge dome of lava inside the crater could either collapse,
sending lava and rock down the peak's southern flanks, or explode, launching rock
and ash into the surrounding area.

About 300,000 people live within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of the volcano, a radius
that includes Colima city, the state capital, but lava flows have never reached
populated areas. The volcano is located 300 miles (480 kilometers) west of Mexico

 Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.