Copahue Volcano imminent eruption sparks mandatory evacuations

The National Service of Geology and Mining of the Volcano Observatory of the Southern Andes (Servicio Nacional de Geologia y Mineria del Observatorio Vulcanologico de los Andes del Sur-SERNAGEOMIN) has declared a red alert at the Bio-Bio zone due to the imminent eruption of the Copahue Volcano. Consequently, the likely outburst has sparked mandatory evacuations.

“The name of the volcano consists of Mapuche voices ko, ‘water’, pa, ‘sulfur’, and we, ‘place’, so it can be translated as ‘place sulphurous’, a quality that may be reflected in the Copahue hot springs. ” says Wikipedia.

The Copahue Volcano has an altitude of about 3000 meters (near 10.000 feet) and is located in Chile, at the Andes Mountains, in the Bio-bio / Neuquen area bordering Argentina and about 570 kilometers south of Santiago, the capital.

Last December the Copahue made news when throw a column of smoke, ash and gases about 1.5 kilometers up in the atmosphere. A lot of people were evacuated at that time with no big incidents.

About 2200 people, mostly mapuche cattle farmers, were notified of mandatory evacuations but they were reluctant to leave because of their animals. They start doing it once the authorities committed to remove the them too.

Since Monday The National Service of Geology and Mining has detected a minor eruptive process, with an average of 455 low intensity earthquakes every hour and that is why they declared the alert.

The government has mobilized the army in collaboration with carabineros (the police) and the PDI (kind of FBI) to help with the mobilization and logistics.

The mapuche families own about 20.000 heads of cattle and sheep the authorities declared on Cooperative Radio.

The Volcano Observatory of the Southern Andes (Observatorio Vulcanologico de los Andes del Sur) has noticed a decrease of the seismicity but the eruptive process still increasing.

Early today people started boarding the buses with few possessions, carrying bags with few clothes and documents, feeling sad and worried about what they were leaving behind and hoping that nothing really bad ocurred to their land and belongings, wishing to come back very soon.

The area was also affected by the severe storms that damage the evacuation roads but conditions got better by Tuesday morning, permitting the authorities to start the mobilization process.

In Caviahue town at the Argentinian side, 600 people has been ordered to evacuate. “We are going to go to the homes and we are going to remove the women, the elderly and children,” police officer Javier Urrutia Vergara told Reuters.

Written By: Edgar Soto

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