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5,000 Chileans evacuated after twin volcano eruptions

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Chilean President Michelle Bachelet

Around 5,000 people have been evacuated from their houses in southern Chile following the twin eruptions of the Calbuco volcano.

According to reports on Thursday, the Chilean officials declared a state of emergency in the country and evacuated thousands of frightened people from a 21-kilometer radius around the mountain in the southern province of Llanquihue.

No information has been released on the casualties of the incident, but reports said that a 21-year old mountain climber has been missing following the eruptions.

The first eruption of the Calbuco volcano, located near the cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt, occurred on Wednesday, sending a thick plume of smoke and ash several kilometers into the sky. Seven hours later, the volcano erupted again, this time shooting lava into the air and generating volcanic lightning.

Earlier in the day, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said she plans to visit the troubled area along with several members of her cabinet.

“The ash might damage crops, animal feed, bridges, roads, people’s work routines, tourism and especially their health,” Bachelet said, adding, “We don’t know how the situation is going to evolve. It’s pretty unpredictable.”

Meanwhile, Chile’s interior minister urged residents to cooperate with the Chilean army to facilitate the process of evacuation.

“I would like to call on the population to remain calm and stay informed,” said Rodrigo Penailillo.

Reports added that the spectacular eruptions of the volcano caused tremendous fear among the residents of the affected area.

“The explosion caused immediate hysteria among residents. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” said Marcia Claro, the owner of a cafeteria in the town of Puerto Varas which is located at the foot of the mountain.

“It sounded like a big tractor trailer passing by the road, rattling and shaking, guttural rumbling…. We left everything there, grabbed my kid, my dog, got in the car with my wife,” said Trevor Moffat, another witness.

The Calbuco volcano was inactive for more than 50 years and last erupted in 1961.


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