A volcano in southwestern Colombia erupted violently on Thursday night, spewing ash for kilometers and prompting an evacuation order for thousands in the nearby city of Pasto.
The 4,276-metre Galeras volcano began erupting at 8:06 pm, said the director of Colombia’s Seismological Network, Fernando Gil.
No injuries or damage were reported. Witnesses said it light up the night sky in stunning pyroclastics.
“It’s still erupting,” Gil told The Associated Press more than two hours later, estimating an ash cloud reaching up to 7 kilometres high.
He called it the most serious eruption of Galeras since the volcano reactivated in 1989. “Depending on the wind direction it’s going to spread ashes over the entire area.”
About 8,000 people live in areas near the volcano where Pasto’s mayor ordered an evacation but “most of the city is not in danger,” Gil said by phone.
“Most of (Galeras’) eruptions are violent and short,” he noted. He said Thursday’s eruption had produced some lava flows that did not extend far from the volcano’s crater.
A 1993 eruption of the volcano, near the border with Ecuador, killed nine people, including five scientists who had descended into the crater to sample gases.
In November 2005, the volcano spewed ash that fell about 50 kilometres away. (AP)
Major volcanic eruption in Colombia prompts evacuation