Volcano eruptis in El Salvador prompting evacuations

Monday 30 December 2013 17.19
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View of the Chaparrastique volcano spewing ashes and smoke in San Miguel
View of the Chaparrastique volcano spewing ashes and smoke in San Miguel
Those living close to the volcano are being evacuated
Those living close to the volcano are being evacuated

Evacuations have been taking place in eastern El Salvador after the Chaparrastique volcano belched a column of hot ash high into the air yesterday.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in the San Miguel region, where the volcano is located.

Civil protection authorities were evacuating people from within 3km of the volcano and set-up emergency shelters.

"The evacuations began almost right after the explosion," said civil protection official Armando Vividor.

He said about 5,000 people lived around the volcano.

The volcano, which is about 140km to the east of the capital, spewed ash over a wide area and the smell of sulphur hung over surrounding towns, according to reports on social media.

Authorities recommended breathing through moist handkerchiefs.

Santos Osorio, a member of a local coffee growers union, said heavy ash was falling in the area and local coffee plantations would be checked for damage.

El Salvador's crop has already been blighted by an outbreak of leaf rust, which has reduced output in all five of Central America's coffee producers.

El Salvador has 23 active volcanoes and the Chaparrastique volcano is considered one of the most active, with 26 eruptions in the last 500 years, the environment ministry said.

In a 1976 eruption, lava gushed from the volcano and it shook violently in another event in 2010.