Thousands flee after volcano begins to erupt in Colombia

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Galeras in July 2006.
Image: C3tuxpo.

Thousands of people in Pastos, Colombia have been ordered to evacuate after the Galeras Volcano began to "explosively" erupt, according to reports. According to Colombia's Institute of Geology and Mines, the eruption began at about 7:10 p.m. local time (00:10 GMT). An estimated 8,000 people have been affected.

"[There is a] large amount of ash" falling from the sky, said Eduardo Alvarado, Pastos's provincial governor, adding that those "who live in urban areas, remain in their homes." The government in the area has been put on red alert and the Red Cross has also been called in to assist in aiding refugees. So far there are no reports of injuries damages, or deaths.

Galeras, which sits on the Colombian, Ecuador border, had recently erupted in 2008, but there were no injuries or deaths. In 1993, nine people were killed in an eruption. It's the most active volcano in Colombia and has been erupting regularly for at least a million years.