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PUERTO MONTT/FUTALEUFU, Chile, May 8, 2008 (Reuters) — Chile on Thursday ordered holdout residents to flee from an erupting volcano in the remote region of Patagonia and vowed to force them out if they refuse to obey.
The military evacuated a small contingent of troops and journalists from near Chaiten volcano in southern Chile before dawn on Thursday after it spat out fiery material.
But some civilians refused to leave two villages near the volcano that began erupting last week for the first time in thousands of years. It has spewed ash that has reached the Atlantic seaboard and the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.
A strong smell of sulfur hung in the air around the village of Chaiten, just six miles from the volcano.
A court has ordered the complete evacuation of a 30-mile (50-km) radius of the volcano, a move that gives police permission to use force.
"There are still people who are not respecting the decisions of the authorities, which are trying to protect their lives," Defense Minister Jose Goni told local radio.