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Nicaragua volcano sparks evacuation orders

Authorities order evacuations as San Cristobal, one of seven active volcanoes in country, spews hot gas and ash.
Last Modified: 27 Dec 2012 06:34
A government spokesperson said 15 eruptions had been recorded over the last day at the volcano [AFP]

Nicaragua's tallest volcano has belched an ash cloud hundreds of metres into the sky prompting the authorities to order the evacuation of some 300 families, the government said.

San Cristobal, one of Nicaragua's seven active volcanoes, also spewed hot gas and ash on Tuesday in what is the latest bout of sporadic activity.

A yellow alert was declared on Wednesday in a 1.8-mile radius around the volcano to allow the evacuation of residents who would be at great risk during a significant eruption, Rosario Murillo, the federal government spokeswoman and first lady, told a local radio station.

Murillo said 15 eruptions had been recorded over the last day at the volcano northeast of Managua, Nicaragua's capital.

San Cristobal, believed to have erupted for the first time in 1685, has emitted regular small eruptions, but larger ones are unpredictable, said Murillo.

Authorities had wanted to move the closest residents away from the volcano as a precaution.

Despite warnings of a likely eruption, some 1,500 farmers living on the slopes of the volcano refused to leave, the AFP news agency reported.

"People have not evacuated because we do not want to go and leave the area abandoned," Maria Pereira told AFP.

Pereira lives in "Grecia 4," a community of about 600 people at the base of the volcano, in the Chinandega department.

She said columns of ash "bathed the trees, houses, and roads in white" and "pretty sand fell" in the morning. She said by early afternoon volcanic activity had decreased, though in the evening new columns of ash shot up.

In another community near the volcano, Bethlehem, some farmers resisted efforts of Civil Defence officials to convince them to obey the evacuation order.

Around 140 Civil Defence troops have been deployed to "persuade" farmers to move away from the danger zone, state deputy Colonel Nestor Solis told reporters.

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