After a string of eruptions during the last week, Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission announced Monday that it would expand security measures around the volcano. The total area under restricted access extends five kilometers from the crater.
The commission — known by the acronym CNE — announced that the area within two kilometers of the crater is off limits to all visitors and inhabitants. The remaining three kilometers outside the closed area are only accessible by farmers and ranchers with property in the area, and they must be accompanied by an employee from the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry, CNE spokeswoman Rebecca Madrigal said.
During the weekend, authorities started to evacuate animals from the area around the crater. The National Animal Health Service estimated that there were a total of 279 animals on 13 farms within the two-kilometer ring around the crater.
Classes are currently suspended at the nearby school of El Volcán in the town of La Central, which sits on the slope of the volcano. Students from the Unidad Pedagógica El Torito were relocated to the Colegio de Santa Teresita to take their high school exit exams.
Turrialba National Park is closed to the public at this time but the town of Turrialba and surrounding towns are not in danger, according to the emergency commission.
Since Oct. 23, Turrialba Volcano has seen a series of increasingly strong eruptions, including one on Saturday afternoon that launched a column of ash 1,000 meters into the air. CNE said that the volcano has averaged an eruption every hour during the last week. A yellow alert remains in effect for the cantons of Turrialba and Alvarado.