QUERAPI, Peru (UPI) — Regional governments in the south of Peru, as well as several local municipalities, have declared a state of emergency and begun evacuating more than 4,000 citizens, as the the country’s 18,750-foot-tall Ubinas volcano continues to erupt.
The volcano has been smoldering and slowly erupting for a couple weeks now, but yesterday the mountain top spewed a giant cloud of ash two miles into the sky, an escalation that prompted officials to issue evacuation orders in nearby towns like Querapi.
Ubinas lies some 470 miles southeast of Peru’s capital, Lima.
Jose Machare, of the Peruvian Institute of Geophysics, told BBC news that the chance of this latest development evolving into an “unusual eruption that could be very big” was still low.
Still, geologists and public safety officials in Peru are playing it safe. In 2006, thousands were evacuated in the wake of a similar eruption of ash and toxic gases; dozens of livestock were killed in that incident when they grazed on grass covered in toxic cinders.