Tuesday morning Chile’s Villarrica volcano erupted creating a fire in the sky. The 9,000 foot high mountain spewed fire, lava, steam and ash as high as 3,000 feet into the early morning heavens.
Villarrica lies just 400 miles south of Chile’s capital city Santiago. The eruption forced the evacuation of 3,385 people from the surrounding small towns and tourist areas. At the moment there have been no reports of injury.
The eruption occurred at 3 a.m. local time. A second eruption is likely. Tourists in the area hastened to leave of Pucon, a popular resort near the volcano. Locals remained perfectly calm. Villarrica is located on the ‘Pacific Rim of Fire,’ the second largest chain of volcanoes next to those in Indonesia. There are 2,000 volcanoes in the Andes; 90 of them remain active.
Villarrica’s last eruption was in 1985. Throughout the 20th century approximately 100 people have died on the mountain’s slopes. The most recent eruption in the area was in 2011. Neighboring Mount Puyehue released such an enormous quantity of ash into the sky that flights were disrupted in Argentina for several months.
Authorities have asked residents and tourists alike to stay away from the unstable area. Although the fireworks are impressive, the danger is real.
By James Turnage
Photo Courtesy of Ásgeir Kröyer