Tue, Dec 31, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Evacuations begin in El Salvador 3km around volcano

AP, SAN SALVADOR

The Chaparrastique volcano spews ashes and smoke in San Miguel, east of San Salvador, El Salvador on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

El Salvadorean authorities evacuated an area around the Chaparrastique volcano after the peak shot a cloud of gas and ash about 5km into the air on Sunday.

Salvadorean Civil Defense Director Jorge Melendez said a yellow alert had been issued and investigators had been sent to the area to look for signs of fresh lava, but that none has been detected so far.

“We have implemented emergency measures to evacuate villages located within 3km of the volcano,” Melendez said.

Shelters have been set up for the evacuees, but Melendez said some inhabitants had been loath to leave their homes.

“One has to leave for one’s own safety,” he said.

Salvadorean Assistant Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza said two people had been treated at hospitals for respiratory problems apparently linked to the eruption, “but we do not have any serious cases to report.”

“We are providing assistance to people evacuating, and we are asking them to protect themselves against the gases, which can affect the respiratory tract,” Espinoza said. He also urged those near the volcano to avoid drinking from local water sources.

The 2,129m volcano is about 145km east of San Salvador, the capital. Its last significant eruption was in 1976.

San Miguel is one of the country’s largest cities and is 50km from the volcano.

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