Thousands of people living near the Popocatepetl volcano in the states of Puebla and Morelos have been put on evacuation alert after the volcano began spewing mile-high plumes of toxic gas and ash into the air on Monday.
Reports say that residents in San Nicolas de Los Ranchos and other communities within 10 miles of the volcano were under a yellow alert Tuesday to evacuate at short notice if the volcanic activity increases.
Popocatepetl, located in the states of Puebla and Morelos, in the eastern section of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, is one of Mexico’s most active volcanoes.
At 5,426 meters (17,802 ft.), Popocatepetl is the second highest peak in the country, second only to the dormant Citlaltépetl (Pico de Orizaba) — about 5,636 meters (18,491 ft.) high — located in the border between the Mexican states of Veracruz and Puebla, also in the eastern part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.
It is feared that a major eruption of Popocatepetl could put residents of Mexico City — the world’s fourth largest city and capital of Mexico — at risk.
Popocatepetl is located about 43 miles (70 km) southeast of Mexico City, with a population of 20 million, while the city of Puebla, the largest city of the state of Puebla, with a population of a few million, is about 38 miles (61 kilometers) away.
It is estimated that a major eruption of the 5,426 meter-high (17,802 ft.) volcano places about 9 million people at risk.
Popocatepetl’s last major eruption occurred in 2000, followed by a minor eruption in 2005.
The volcano has had more than 15 major eruptions since 1519, following the arrival of the Spanish in the region. A major eruption also occurred in 1947. In December, 1994, a major eruption of the volcano spewed large quantities of toxic gas that was carried up to 25 km by prevailing winds. The incident forced evacuation of several settlements.
About 41,000 people were evacuated during the incident in 2000. The evacuation was prompted by early warnings from scientists who had been watching and studying the volcano.
The volcano had a minor eruption in 2005. Following the incident, it began showing signs of increasing activity in January, 2012, with minor incidents in April, 2012, May, 2013, July, 2014, and October, 2015.
The latest volcano eruption alert comes after concerns earlier in the month that the 3,850-meter-high Colima volcano, another major volcano in Mexico, was about to have a major eruption.
The volcano came alive sending a 1.8-mile-high column of gas and ash into the atmosphere, prompting fears of a major event after nearly a century of relatively inactivity.
The report also comes after the Inquisitr reported that about 1,200 people living close to Mount Egon in Kupang, eastern Indonesia, were evacuated after the volcano began throwing up gas and volcanic ash.
Many have raised questions about the apparent uptick in global volcanic activity in recent years.
The Inquisitr reported last week that earlier this month, experts with the European Science Foundation (ESF) warned that the world has entered a period of increased volcanic activity and that there is a 10 percent chance of a major supervolcano eruption in the next 80 years that could kill millions and cause widespread devastation.
According to the report titled, “Extreme Geo-hazards: Reducing the Disaster Risk and Increasing Resilience,” supervolcanoes are currently a bigger threat than earthquakes, asteroid impacts, and tsunamis. A major eruption of one of the world’s major supervolcanoes, such as the Yellowstone supervolcano in Wyoming, could devastate the planet.
The experts warned that the impact of a major volcanic eruption could be worsened by the fact that the world’s governments are unprepared for the looming disaster. According to the experts, because the world has experienced more earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters in the last 2,000 years, governments have neglected preparations for a volcanic eruption disaster.
[Image via CVmontuy/Wikimedia Commons]