November 23, 1998

Mexico's 'Popo' volcano rumbles, Colima settles

                  MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -- Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano spewed ash,
                  gas and steam two miles (3.2 kms) into the sky on Monday, while the threat
                  of a violent eruption at the country's other volcano, Colima, receded,
                  officials said.

                  Mexico's disaster prevention body said Popocatepetl, just 40 miles (65
                  kms) southeast of Mexico City and its 18 million inhabitants, may be forming
                  a new lava body in its crater though the state of alert remained at "yellow." A
                  "red" alert would mean the evacuation of at least 70,000 people.

                  "In the past 12 hours, about 100 exhalations have been recorded. This
                  activity suggests that a new lava body is growing inside the crater," the
                  agency, known as Cenapred, said in a bulletin.

                  On the borders of the western states of Jalisco and Colima, meanwhile,
                  some 430 miles (690 kms) northwest of Mexico City, authorities on
                  Monday allowed some people to return to their homes in the shadow of the
                  Colima volcano after it released a stream of lava but did not seem about to

                  "The 119 people evacuated (over the weekend) by the state of Jalisco are
                  going home because we have decided there is no risk," said Jalisco Civil
                  Protection spokesman Gustavo Ramirez.

                  In Colima, state spokeswoman Beatriz Torres told Reuters that 150 people
                  evacuated from the village of La Yerbabuena, 4.4 miles (7 kms) from
                  Colima's crater, would remain in emergency shelters for the time being.

                  The Colima volcano, known as the "Volcano of Fire," is ranked as Mexico's
                  most active, having erupted some 25 times in the past 500 years. The last
                  major eruption took place in 1913, and authorities have been monitoring it
                  closely since June, when rumblings resumed.

                  Popocatepetl, likewise, has been threatening to erupt for years. Last year, it
                  erupted 31 times. In June 1997, "Popo" covered Mexico City with a thin
                  film of ash and temporarily closed the international airport.

                   Copyright 1998 Reuters.