Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Costa Rica increases volcano alert

Two abandoned houses are pictured in front of the Turrialba Volcano in Santa Cruz de Turrialba January 6, 2010. Costa Rica's Turrialba volcano, last active in the 19th century, erupted on Tuesday, spewing ash and steam and prompting authorities to evacuate a small number of people from its slopes. The 11,000-foot (3,340-meter) volcano is situated east of the capital San Jose. REUTERS/Juan Carlos UlateSan Jose (AFP) – Costa Rica on Wednesday raised an alert level to cover a wider area around the Turrialba volcano, a day after it erupted.

"The alert level is rising from green to yellow," Vanessa Rosales, the head of the National Emergency Commission, told a news conference in the capital San Jose, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the volcano.

Winds were sweeping some ash toward the capital, Rosales said, adding that "intense but low" seismic activity continued in the crater area.

Evacuations would extend from a three-kilometer radius to five or six kilometers, with some 50 people already evacuated, she added.

The 3,328-meter (10,918-foot) volcano erupted Tuesday, spewing ash and rocks and forcing 21 people in its vicinity to evacuate their homes.

The last major eruption of the Turrialba volcano was in 1856. It has had at least five major explosive eruptions in the last 3,500 years.

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