When Volcano Calbuco erupted in Chile on Wednesday for the first time in five decades, everyone within a 12 mile radius was evacuated immediately.
The ash cloud from the explosion, however, reached 9 miles into the sky and has already covered much of the continent. Flights from Argentina have been canceled as experts say the ash is heading over the Andes mountains and could reach as far as the Buenos Aires province — 1500 km to the east — by next week.
The volcano itself is still puffing out ash and smoke,Reuters reported. A 2011 volcanic eruption in Chile sent ash so high up into the atmosphere that flights flying out of Australia were canceled as a safety precaution.
The small village of Ensenada, Chile and some towns in Argentina have been blanketed with a thick layer of ash and soot capable of causing respiratory infections and contaminating water, theGuardianreported.
The weight of the ash has caused roofs to cave in. While most of Ensenada has been evacuated, about 30 people have remained behind, not wanting to leave their homes or their animals.
“We woke up today with a blanket of fog and it hasn’t cleared,” a resident ofPuerto Varas, Chile told the Guardian. “We have a layer of smoke above us.”
Officials have warned residents of the affected towns that a third “and even more aggressive” explosion is likely,”We are praying that the volcanic activity will be as short as possible,” said Villa La Angostura, Argentina mayor Roberto Cacault.
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