News Update :

Mexican volcano rumbles, but residents shrug it off

Saturday, May 18, 2013

MEXICO: Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano has blown steam for days, prompting authorities to prepare for possible evacuations, but residents are used to their towering neighbour's rumblings and keep fearlessly heading to work.

Popocatepetl, which means "smoking mountain" in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs, spewed more steam, gas and ash that rose three kilometres (two miles) above the crater early Tuesday, according to the National Disaster Prevention Center. National civil protection coordinator Luis Enrique Puentes said the volcano was "totally calm" following the eruption, which belched out glowing rocks. While there was no immediate need to evacuate the population, the volcano could erupt again Wednesday, he added.

The volcano, which is 55 kilometres (34 miles) southeast of Mexico City, has also rumbled and spewed molten rocks in recent days. Last week, it covered several towns in ash, including the capital of Puebla state.

Authorities have raised the alert level to "Yellow Phase Three," the fifth of a seven-stage warning system, restricting access to an area of 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) around the volcano and preparing evacuation routes. But people living in the nearby town of Santiago Xalitzintla appear calm despite the activity inside the 5,452-meter (17,887-foot) high volcano, known locally as "Gregorio" or "Don Goyo" and considered a magical rainmaker by indigenous populations.

"We go out, we look at it and we go back to sleep very soundly," said Guadalupe de Santiago, balancing a basket of candy on her head near a church in this town just 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) south of the volcano.


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