There’s nothing quite like a monstrous volcano eruption to remind humankind that it’s quite small and insignificant. Take the population of a small town in Chile, which is scattering right now after a nearby volcano blew its top twice in a few hours on Wednesday.
Though it’s one of Chile’s top three most dangerous volcanoes, it wasn’t monitored and hadn’t blown in 42 years. Locals were mighty surprised when it erupted on Wednesday, sending “smoke plumes and ash” 40,000 feet into Chile’s sky, the Weather Channel reported. It blew a second time, after night fall, and resulted in a spray of hot rocks and volcanic lightning. It was stronger than the first.
Calbuco is in southern Chile near a small town called Ensenada (its occupants have been evacuated); two more towns, called Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt, were also emptied. BBC News added that a total of 4,000 people have been cleared out in a 12-mile radius of the volcano.
Residents of Puerto Montt, Chile described the scene to CNN.
“At the beginning, it was small and later, the cloud grew and later there was a huge cloud over you and true terror starts.
“It was impressive to see an enormous mushroom cloud, with the immense force of the volcano, and to see the ashes. At that point, there was a lot of panic, lots of chaos, traffic jams, people going to supermarkets, everyone looking for water, trying to take out money from the ATMs.”
This is the second volcano to blow in Chile in a couple months. Villarrica — one of South America’s most dangerous — erupted last month, the Associated Press added.
“This is clearly a much larger eruption … therefore we need to take bigger and faster measures,” Interior and Security Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said of the Calbuco volcano.
Luckily, no injuries have been reported, but locals are understandably afraid, one woman told BBC News.
“I had never seen this before. It scares you in the beginning. You start to wonder what is going to happen to you. Everyone starts to think about gathering water and I don’t know what. We got together with the neighbors to see what we would do and wait for news over the radio because we knew that they were evacuating Ensenada and other places near the volcano.”
The might of the Calbuco volcano is being felt far and wide; ash from the explosion is falling over Argentina, and nearby towns, like Puerto Montt, are covered in it. The residents of Bariloche, Argentina — 62 miles away — have been warned to stay indoors, and emergency measures are in place there.
Only Indonesia boasts more active volcanoes than Chile, which has 90. Indonesia has 500.
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]