Southern Chile’s volcano Calbuco erupted on Wednesday for the first time in over five decades, sending a thick plume of smoke and ash approximately 20 kilometers into the sky.
The Onemi emergency office in southern Chile issued a red alert soon after the sudden eruption at around 2100 GMT. The eruption occurred nearly 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) south of capital city Santiago, near the famous tourist destination of Puerto Varas.
Nearly 4,000 people had been evacuated from the area. According to the authorities, they have established an evacuation radius of 20 kilometers and classes have also been canceled in the neighboring towns.
The authorities said that the winds that are blowing northeast were pushing the smoke and ash toward Argentina.
Gabriel Orozco, a vulcanologist with Chile’s geological and mining service, said, “In this situation, with the eruption column so high, the main risk is that it collapses, falls due to gravity because of its own weight and causes a pyroclastic flow.”
President Michelle Bachelet will be taking stock of the affected area on Thursday.
Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said that the evacuation work is underway and so far there were no reports of injuries, deaths or missing persons linked with the volcanic eruption.
Penailillo also cautioned the residents of possible lahars, a mix of rock fragments and water, urging them to immediately evacuate the affected regions.