SANTIAGO – One of the almost 70 people who refused to leave the southern Chilean town of Chaiten, devastated by the eruption of the like-named volcano, has been found in his home dead of hypothermia, the press said on Tuesday.
Jose Alberto Paredes, 35, lived in a house near the Blanco River in Chaiten at some 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) south of Santiago, and was known for his absolute refusal to leave the town after the volcano erupted.
The victim was one of the Chaiten "rebels," who survive without basic services and with the permanent risk of explosions and outpourings of lava and ash.
"Yes, sure we're afraid, but nothing's happening," shopkeeper Ingrid Ovande told the daily El Mercurio, admitting that she didn't stay in her house at night for fear that a swelling of the Blanco River might wash it away, as happened to 60 percent of the homes in the town.
Around the volcano up to 50 earth tremors are recorded daily, according to experts.
The red alert decreed by the authorities is still in place due to the risk of volcano's crater collapsing, explosions and quantities of ash affecting the surrounding valleys, the director of emergency services of the Los Lagos region, Guillermo Nuñez, said in a statement reported in the daily El Mercurio.
The Chaiten volcano began erupting on May 2, 2008 and forced the more than 5,000 inhabitants to evacuate the town of the same name, which is only 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the crater.
Meanwhile construction has begun on new buildings and facilities for the new town of Chaiten, located in the Fandango Norte area, some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the original.
The work started with the construction of the airport, which will allow the necessary materials to be brought in to build the new town. EFE