This Monday, May 27th, the Chilean Geological Survey (Sernageomin) and civil authority (ONEMI) have declared “red alert”, ordering 25-km (15.5-mile) an emergency evacuation in Chile due to the predicted eruption of the Copahue Volcano. According to authorities, 2,240 people will have to evacuate their houses and workplaces in the next hours. The “red alert” means that the eruption is imminent or in progress.
The volcano did not erupted yet, but has being showing increasingly seismic activity during this last weeks. Chile’s Interior Minister, Andres Chadwick, said on a nationally televised news conference that “is now in a process that risks turning into an eruption, for that reason we’ve issued a red alert.”
According to the Chilean authorities, this evacuation is “obligatory, and not voluntary”. The evacuation must be completed in 48 hours, if the heavy rains don’t be a delay for more than 450 families to move to a safe location.
Militaries already have available trucks and buses, besides 4 hostels in Raco, for the 460 families in Andes Cordillera zone, mainly in Alto Bío Bío, says the paper Biobio Chile in its official website. The population surrounding the Bío Bío River will be under police custodian.
The Sernageomin said in its latest update that over 250 small earthquakes related to magma movement have being recorded per hour at Copahue.
Copahue last strongest activity with blasts and gases was relate by Sernageomin in 2002.The major eruption of Copahue was in 1992.
Another red alert was called by ONEMI to Copahue in December 2012, after strong ash emissions. Although on that occasion the alert was afterwards decreased to a lower level again.
Situated in the border with Argentina, the volcano Copahue has nearly 10,000-foot (2,965-meter) and sits in the Andes Cordillera. It is located hundreds of kilometers (miles) from capital, Santiago. Copahue is in south-central Chile’s Bio Bio region.
Argentina in Yellow Alert
In Argentina, authorities stated a “yellow alert”, but declared that evacuation is not necessary in Neuquén, the neighboring province for Copahue volcano. However, kind of 900 students had their classes suspended in schools in Argentina’s Caviahue-Copahue.
Citizens of Caviahue have reported explosions and incandescence in the crater of the volcano, which would designate the presence of magma in the surface. If an explosive eruption occurs, there is the danger of ash fall, probable to the east. Neuquén Emergency Committee, with Governor Jorge Sapag, have decided to raise the alert level from “yellow” to “orange” this Monday afternoon. Although, Argentinean authorities still deny the necessity of evacuation, clarifying that the “orange alert” is a precautionary measure.
By Karina Gonçalves