May 17, 1999
Rumbling volcanos force withdrawal of army troops

                  GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) -- Army troops guarding evacuated villages
                  on the flanks of the rumbling Colima volcano were themselves withdrawn to a
                  safer distance Sunday as concern grew among experts that another large
                  eruption may occur.

                  Dozens of soldiers assigned to guard the empty houses in the villages of Yerba
                  Buena, in Colima state, and Juan Barragan in Jalisco state, were ordered to
                  move one to two miles further away from the peak, said Jaime Arturo Paz,
                  Jalisco state civil defense spokesman.

                  Police and soldiers were pulled back to a radius of between 5.3 and 7.2 miles
                  (8.5 to 11.5 kms) around the peak, and residents of four hamlets within that
                  radius were told to prepare for a possible evacuation.

                  That would add another 400 people to the 250 evacuated May 10 from several
                  hamlets nearest the 4,000-meter (13,000-foot) volcano 75 miles (125
                  kilometers) south of Guadalajara, considered one of Mexico's most dangerous
                  volcano complexes.

                  Should a third phase of evacuation be declared, as many as 16,000 people in
                  villages as 18 miles (30 kms) of the peak could be asked to leave their homes
                  and go to shelters in schools located farther from the peak.

                  "The micro-seismic internal activity of the volcano continues to increase ...
                  pointing to the possibility that more explosions may occur similar to those of
                  May 10, February 10 or of even greater intensity," the Interior Secretariat said
                  in a press statement.

                  The May 10 eruption sent a plume of smoke and ash about 5,000 meters
                  (16,400 feet) into the air, and a month earlier a series of explosions rocked the
                  volcano and shot ash three miles into the air.

                  The Colima volcano experienced a large explosion in 1913 and had small
                  eruptions in 1961, 1975, 1987, 1994 and 1998.

                  Meanwhile, moderate explosions occurred at the Popocatepetl volcano located
                  near Mexico City Sunday and the peak spouted a 1/12-mile (2.5 km) column
                  of ash and vapor into the air. However, there were no reports of ash falling on
                  nearby towns, the National Center for Disaster Prevention reported.

                    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.