February 11, 1999
Villagers spend the night in shelters after volcano erupts

                  JUAN BARRAGAN, Mexico (AP) -- The Colima volcano towers above
                  this village, but there is nobody left to hear the rumbles and whines from the
                  peak -- cows and horses wander the dirt streets aimlessly after all 89
                  residents were evacuated.

                  Some who heard the eerie sounds of Wednesday's eruptions compared
                  them to the whine of a jet engine; some reported sounds like thunder. Many
                  knew that, even after entire lives spent on the volcano's flanks, it wasn't safe
                  to stay.

                  "We heard the mountain thunder, so we ran," said Rosa Magana Betancourt,
                  a resident of Juan Barragan who sat beside her 2-year-old daughter Thalia
                  at an evacuation center in the nearby town of San Marcos, in western Jalisco

                  She was describing three successive eruptions at the 12,533-foot Colima
                  peak, or "volcano of fire." Those blasts sent lava and glowing rock flowing 3
                  miles down the mountain's slopes, the Interior Secretariat reported.

                  A total of 118 residents were evacuated from Juan Barragan and two other
                  villages located 6 to 8 miles from the volcano. A patrol of 20 Mexican army
                  soldiers remained in Juan Barragan on Wednesday night, camped out in the
                  village church.

                  "This has never happened before, and I've lived here all my life," Magana
                  Betancourt said as she prepared to spend the night at an improvised shelter
                  at a farm hall in San Marcos, a few miles south of the Jalisco state capital of

                  Civil protection agencies in both Jalisco and neighboring Colima states said
                  there was no damage aside from some grass fires caused by lava flows near
                  the crater, which straddles the border of the two states.

                  Volcanologists consider Colima to be the most active and potentially most
                  destructive of a line of nine volcanoes that runs across the middle of the
                  Mexican mainland. It has staged violent eruptions several dozen times since
                  the first recorded eruption in 1560.

                  About 300,000 people live within 25 miles of the volcano, and Colima city,
                  the capital of Colima state, is within 20 miles of the peak.

                  Jaime Arturo Paz Garcia, director of the Jalisco civil protection agency,
                  described the Wednesday eruptions as "internal," meaning there was no
                  outward blast.

                  He said the first explosion was "quite powerful." It sent a column of steam,
                  smoke and ashes more than 3 miles high. He said the second and third
                  eruptions were less strong, although still powerful. Scientists in the area
                  detected toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide in the emissions.

                  The gases formed a dense fog around the volcano's summit, about 300 miles
                  west of Mexico City, which later dispersed.

                  In November, lesser eruptions forced the evacuation of about 240 people
                  from Juan Barragan and a village in Colima. But after a few days, the peak
                  quieted and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

                    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.