BOGOTA – Colombian authorities again issued a red alert in the area affected by the Galeras volcano, in the southwestern province of Nariño, after a new eruption that claimed no victims, officials said.
A press release from the state-run Colombian Geology and Mining Institute, or Ingeominas, said that “the level of volcanic activity at Galeras has changed to the red level,” which means that an eruption is imminent or in progress.
Information from the Vulcanological and Seismological Observatory in the city of Pasto said that at 8:37 p.m. local time Friday (0137 GMT Saturday) “an eruption of an explosive nature was registered at the Galeras volcano.”
Eduardo Alvarado, the mayor of Pasto, capital of Nariño province, told reporters that for several days an order has been in effect to evacuate the rural area.
“Things are normal in the city,” Alvarado said, adding that all the regional emergency committees have been activated and that, depending on how the volcano evolves this weekend, a decision will be taken on whether to suspend classes for students in the coming days.
The authorities also restricted vehicles from circulating at night on the highway around the volcano.
On Jan. 18, 2008, it was found necessary to evacuate close to 8,000 inhabitants from Mapachico and Genoy in the rural area of Pasto to nearby shelters as a security measure after the volcano erupted.
The Galeras volcano is located at some 700 kilometers (435 miles) southwest of Bogota and is one of 38 in Colombia, of which 15 are active.
All belong to the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, the region where most of the world’s active volcanos are located.
The Galeras volcano reactivated in 2004 and each year produces an average of 19 quakes. The most recent of the eruptions occurred on March 25, but claimed no victims nor caused significant damage.