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1000s evacuated after El Salvador volcano erupts

30 December 2013 8:58

342720_El-Salvador-volcano

El Salvadoran authorities have evacuated thousands of people after the Chaparrastique volcano erupted, shooting a dark cloud of gas and ash several kilometers into the air.

The eruption occurred on Sunday in the eastern part of the country and produced a column of gas and ash about five kilometers (three miles) into the air, forcing residents to leave the area.

According to assistant Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza, two people had been treated at hospitals for respiratory problems apparently linked to the volcano eruption.

“We are providing assistance to people evacuating, and we are asking them to protect themselves against the gases, which can affect the respiratory tract,” said Espinoza.

The health official also urged those who are near the volcano to avoid drinking from local water sources.

Civil Defense Director Jorge Melendez reported that a yellow alert had been issued by authorities and investigators had ordered to the area to search for signs of fresh lava however no traces have so far been found.

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

El Salvadoran officials have set up shelters for the evacuees, however, Melendez stated that some inhabitants had been reluctant to leave their properties.

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

Airlines have cancelled dozens of flights to and from El Salvador as a precautionary measure due to the ash cloud.

The international airport in the capital San Salvador redirected some flights to other airports, including in Guatemala, to avoid the ash.

The eruption was the first outbreak for Chaparrastique volcano in 37 years.

The volcano, which is 2,129 meters (7,025 foot) high, is located approximately 145 kilometers (90 miles) east of the capital San Salvador in the department of San Miguel.

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