May 13, 1999
Mexican officials increasingly worried about Colima volcano

                  MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexican officials are increasingly worried about
                  a major eruption at the Colima volcano in west-central Mexico.

                  Colima state Gov. Fernando Moreno Pena said recent explosive activity
                  and other indicators have created a 60 percent chance of an explosive
                  eruption like that of 1913, when the volcano sent out dangerous ash flows.

                  Officials in Colima and Jalisco states already have evacuated several
                  hundred people from five villages at the foot of the 13,325-foot volcano,
                  which sent a 15,000-foot high plume of ash and gas into the air Monday.

                  Colima, 75 miles south of Guadalajara, is considered one of Mexico's most
                  dangerous volcano complexes. It has three vents: the Volcano of Fire, which
                  is active, the slightly taller Nevado de Colima, three miles to the north, and a
                  small vent between the two.

                  The volcano has staged small eruptions in 1961, 1975, 1987 and 1994.
                  About 2,300 years ago, it had an eruption much larger than that of Mt. St.
                  Helens, although officials do not believe such a cataclysm is likely now.

                  In February, it had also erupted, pushing lava down its slopes.

                  At that time, Moreno said, officials calculated the probabilities at "70 percent
                  for normalization and some 30 percent for an event like that of 1913. Now it
                  has risen, to about 40-60," he said in a statement Wednesday.

                  But volcanologist Servando de la Cruz, scientific coordinator for Mexico's
                  Center for the Prevention of Disasters, said the volcano's constant activity
                  tends to reduce the risk of a major eruption by dissipating the volcano's

                  Investigators recorded seven explosive events at the volcano and the
                  governor said overflights showed a large new hole has opened in the crater.

                    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.