February 17, 1999
Light explosions shake Mexico's ``Volcano of Fire''

                  GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Reuters) -- Light explosions shook Mexico's
                  "Volcano of Fire" for a seventh day on Wednesday but authorities said activity
                  inside the crater had steadied.

                  Colima Volcano, on the border of the western Mexican states of Jalisco and
                  Colima, had been dormant since early this century until it sprang to life in

                  After a brief burst of activity, it quieted down until last week, when it spewed
                  out lava and clouds of noxious gas and forced evacuations from 11 nearby

                  It has continued to register light to moderate explosions over the past seven
                  days, spitting out giant boulders on Monday and forcing authorities to weigh
                  further evacuations on Tuesday.

                  But on Wednesday they said conditions inside the 14,319-foot (4,364-metre)
                  peak had not worsened.

                  "The volcano is stable but activity continues," Marita Oropeza, spokeswoman
                  for Jalisco's civilian protection force, said.

                  Located some 300 miles (480 km) northwest of Mexico City, the volcano has
                  registered dozens of medium- and low-intensity explosions since Feb. 10,
                  sending rocks, water vapour and dense clouds of gas into the sky. Lava has
                  also flowed down its slopes.

                  The zone around the crater is now in phase two of a three-phase alert. People
                  are forbidden to come within 6.5 miles (10.5 km) of it, and authorities do not
                  rule out evacuations of up to 7,000 people living within 8.7 miles (14 km).

                  The volcano last erupted in 1913. Based on a cycle it has followed since 1500,
                  in which the volcano exhibits signs of activity about every 80 years,
                  volcanologists have been on standby for fresh activity since 1993.

                  Scientists and civil protection officials have been monitoring the volcano
                  constantly since the weekend and are ready to issue evacuation alerts if

                     Copyright 1999 Reuters.