1500 people evacuated as Chilean volcano erupts after being dormant for 43 years

Chile’s Calbuco volcano has erupted for the first time in 43 years, prompting an evacuation of 1,500 people from the nearby town of Ensenada. The volcano, which has been inactive since 1972, spilled a huge ash cloud into the skies above southern Chile before a second eruption hours later. The National Mining and Geological Service issued a high alert and banned access to areas close to the volcano. Close to the cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt, the volcano is around 1000km south of the capital Santiago.  Alejandro Verges, a regional emergency director of the Los Lagos region, said the eruption was unexpected.

In this situation, with the eruption column so high, the main risk is that it collapses, falls due to gravity because of its own weight and causes a pyroclastic flow.

Gabriel Orozco, a vulcanologist with Chile’s geological and mining service

Authorities say that while a large amount of ash has spilled from the volcano, no lava has been spotted. President Michelle Bachelet said she would travel to the affected area along with several ministers. "The ash might damage crops, animal feed, bridges, roads, people’s work routines, tourism and especially their health,“ she said. Calbuco is 2000m tall and is considered one of Chile’s top three most dangerous volcanoes. The country has around 90 active volcanoes, including Villarica, which erupted in southern Chile last month and forced authorities to evacuate thousands of people.