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This new alert indicates an imminent or ongoing eruption. There are no reported victims or material damages, authorities are asking for immediate evacuation.
The event was registered on Wednesday early morning, after which the threat level was raised from orange to red, which indicates another eruption could be registered in the next minutes. Authorities made a reiterated call for inhabitants to rush to shelters.
Galeras (Urcunina among the 16th-century indigenous people) is an Andean stratovolcano in the Colombian department of Nariño, near the departmental capital Pasto. Its summit rises 4,276 metres (14,029 ft) above sea level. It has erupted frequently since the Spanish conquest, with its first historical eruption being recorded on December 7, 1580. A 1993 eruption killed nine people, including six scientists who had descended into the volcano's crater to sample gases. It is currently the most active volcano in Colombia.
BOGOTA — Colombian officials on Wednesday raised the alert on the Galeras volcano to "red," the highest level, and ordered the evacuation of 8,000 people after it began spewing smoke and ash.
The small eruption, which was not an explosion, occurred at 4:00 am (0900 GMT), officials said.
Martha Calvache, under director of the state geological service, said the volcano is "emitting ash, and lava has been detected in the crater."
"The volcano is in a very unstable phase," she said.
Colombians evacuated as Galeras volcano erupts
By The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 5:34 a.m.
BOGOTA, Colombia — The Galeras volcano is erupting in southwestern Colombia, forcing scores of people to evacuate from their homes.
Marta Calvache of Colombia's Geology and Mining Institute says a burst of gases, ash and vapor rose from the volcano at about 4 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Wednesday. The mountain's peak is 14,029 feet (4,276 meters) above sea level.
Carlos Ivan Marquez of the Colombian Red Cross says 278 people have evacuated from the area around the volcano.
He says so far there are no reports of damage.
The Associated Press