Volcano erupts in El Salvador

Western El Salvador’s Ilamatepec volcano shot burning rock, gases and ash high into the air on Saturday, sending frightened residents scurrying from surrounding areas.

Authorities ordered the evacuation of three communities in the shadow of the volcano, which towers near Santa Ana, the country’s second-largest city, 60km from San Salvador, the capital.

”The volcano has entered an eruptive phase that consists of ashes and gases,” Interior Secretary Rene Figueroa said at a hastily organised news conference.

It was unclear how many people had been ordered to leave their homes. Figueroa said as many as 10 000 residents live close to the volcano, but that most areas were not being evacuated.

He said there were no official reports of injuries, but NGOs said an unknown number of people were treated for smoke inhalation and other breathing ailments.

Figueroa said air-force flights over Ilamatepec ”confirmed that it emitted a column of ash that reached 50 000 feet [15 250m] high”.

Elda de Godoy, head of the Salvadoran geological survey, said the eruption featured ”a modest explosion of ash and hot rocks” but said that it did not include lava. — Sapa-AP

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