CNE outlines risk areas around Turrialba volcano as gas still spews

January 29, 2010

Costa Rica emergency officials have laid out specific trouble spots in areas surrounding Turrialba Volcano, located about 40 kilometers northeast of San José.The volcan again showed signs of increased activity after its initial ash eruption earlier this month.

A yellow alert – the second of the country´s three alert levels – in effect since the mountain began acting up during the first week of January, applies to a 2 km radius from the crater of the volcano, according to a statement issued Friday by the National Emergency Commission (CNE). This zone includes the Turrialba Volcano National Park and communities of El Tigre, Bajo Bonilla, Finca Quemadas and Lechería Tapojo as well as isolated homeswithin this radius.

Experts have indicated that the volcano will continue its phreatic activity, emitting gases and ash, which will affect areas near the crater. Anyone within the 2 km radius included in the yellow alert could experience adverse health effects from breathing the sulfur, helium and carbon dioxide that the volcano has been emitting, the CNE reported.

The areas under green alert, outside the 2 km radius, are far enough away from the volcano that they should not be affected by the gases, but residents should take precautions nonetheless. The green-alert (lowest level alert) zone includes La Central, La Silvia, Espino Blanco, Caridad, Hacienda Volcán, Finca Lechería Muralla, Esperanza, Coliblanco, La Virtud, Cabo de Hacha, Lecheria Quebradillas, Lechería El Roble, San Gerardo, Lechería Santa Teresita, San Rafael de Irazú, Irazú Sur, Finca Volio, Bajo Mora, Penas, Finca Angeles and El Sitio.

Downtown Turrialba and La Suiza de Turrialba are not under alert, according to the latest CNE information.

Agriculture and health officials are expected to visit the area Wednesday to inspect crops and examine the respiratory condition of any locals who might have been affected by the volcano´s gases.

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