EFE | Santiago

The Villarrica volcano in southern Chile erupted early Tuesday, sending plumes of smoke and ash into the sky, and forcing officials to evacuate thousands of residents from nearby towns.

Evacuations were ordered in the cities of Pucon, Villarrica and Panguipulli, Interior Minister Rodrigo Peñailillo said.

View of the vulcano Villarrica erupting on 03 March 2015 at Villarrica, 750km south Santiago de Chile in Chile. Over 4,000 people have been evacuated
View of the vulcano Villarrica erupting on 03 March 2015 at Villarrica, 750km south Santiago de Chile in Chile. Over 4,000 people have been evacuated due to the risk of floods as snow melts due to the volcano's eruption. EFE/Ariel Marinkovic

Nearly 4,000 people have been evacuated and 45 people were left stranded by a mudslide that swept away two small bridges over the Turbio River, Pañailillo said.

Some roads that had been closed were reopened to traffic at 10:00 a.m., the interior minister said.

The volcano is experiencing a "weak and intermittent Strombolian eruption," the Chilean Geology and Mining Service, or Sernageomin, said.

Strombolian eruptions are characterized by the intermittent explosion or fountaining of basaltic lava from a single vent or crater.

President Michelle Bachelet traveled to the area to get a firsthand look at the situation.

Advertisement