Guatemala on Alert Following Volcanic Eruptions

January 14, 2005

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) -Guatemalan authorities last weekenddeclared a state of alert following threevolcanic eruptions within just days ofeach other.National disaster office spokesmanHugo Hernández said the preventive alertconsists of keeping watch on the volcanoesFuego, Santiaguito and Pacaya, butso far no order has been issued to evacuateresidents from nearby areas.All three volcanoes have erupted inthe past and caused widespread destruction.The first volcano to erupt last weekwas Fuego, standing 3,763 meters (12,338feet) high, some 60 kilometers southwestof the capital. It spewed molten lava some100 meters into the air above its peak andemitted a column of gray smoke some 1.3kilometers high.THE eruption was followed byanother explosion last Sunday bySantiaguito – Guatemala’s youngest andmost dangerous volcano, which emergedfrom the side of the Santa Maria volcanoafter a huge 1902 blast. SantiaguitoVolcano is located some 150 kilometerswest of Guatemala City.Pacaya, the country’s most famousvolcano, located about 40 kilometerssouth of the capital, also entered an eruptivestate on Sunday.Government volcanologists saidthis is the first time in 31 years that allthree have been active at the same time.The trio of volcanoes belched forthlava, ash and rocks from internal explosions,but experts said that this was just”normal activity.”Residents of the areas near the volcanoesare used to this type of activity, andas of yet have no plans to leave theirhomes, local radio stations said Friday.Hundreds of sightseers haveapproached the mountains over the lastfew days, mainly at night, to view thefiery spectacle produced by the eruptions.GUATEMALA has 37 volcanoes,most of which are dormant, in the southernand western highlands.Fuego has erupted more than 60 timessince 1524, making it Central America’shistorically most-active volcano, and one ofthe most active fire-mountains in the Americas.Its last major eruption was in 1974.Pacaya, standing 2,552 meters (8,365feet) high, is also one of the world’s mostactive volcanoes. It has erupted at least 23times since 1565 and violent explosionstook place at the mountain in January2000.

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