Thursday, January 22, 2009

Poas Volcano National Park reopens after quake

By Leland Baxter-Neal
Tico Times Staff

Poas Volcano National Park, Costa Rica's most-visited national park, reopened to the public Tuesday for the first time since the devastating Jan. 8 earthquake struck just 10 kilometers east of the volcano.

Poas Volcano gave two small phreatic eruptions, which happens when magma meets ground surface water, on Jan. 12 and 13. However, seismologists have said those eruptions were not directly related to the quake, which was the result of plate movement along a local fault line, and not volcanic activity.

A team from the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET) conducted an inspection of the park the day after the quake and determined the park facilities did not sustain any permanent damage.

Rafael Gutierrez, director of the Cordillera Volcanica Central Conservation Area, the MINAET office that oversees state lands in the region, said the park was kept closed in part because the earthquake had knocked out power and ruptured the water lines into the park. Those were however repaired over the weekend, he said at a press conference Tuesday.

The park was also kept close because the National Emergency Commission (CNE) needed the roads clear for rescue work, Gutierrez said.

The park is back to normal operations except the Botos Lagoon, a popular but remote attraction, which will remain off limits just in case the park needs to be evacuated quickly, GutiƩrrez said.

The area has continued to receive aftershocks, some reaching a magnitude greater than 4, but scientists say those routine aftershocks should quickly decrease in magnitude.

“The situation is normal,” Gutierrez said. “We are monitoring it daily to avoid any emergencies or take action at the necessary moment.”

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