Popocatépetl: Millions prepare to flee their homes as Mexican volcano spews ash and rocks | world news

Millions of people in Mexico have been ordered to prepare to leave their homes as the country’s Popocatépetl volcano spews ash, rocks and gas.

Officials said people living downwind of “El Popo” should wear masks and cover their eyes, but the country’s president played down the risk to life.

THE volcanowhich is in the center Mexicojust 45 miles (72 km) southeast of Mexico City, has been belching for days.

Photo: AP

On Monday, officials warned millions of people to prepare for a possible evacuation, but none have yet been ordered.

Nevertheless, the authorities mapped out evacuation routes, prepared shelters and carried out simulation exercises.

People were instructed not to go anywhere within 7.5 miles (12 km) of the mountain.

About 25 million people live within a 96 km radius of the mountain, considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its location.

View of the eruption of the Popocatepetl volcano, seen from San Nicolas de los Ranchos, in the state of Puebla, Mexico May 23, 2023. REUTERS/Armando Vega NO RESALE.  NO ARCHIVE TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday that its intensity had diminished.

He said: “The ash it’s emitting is also less. Basically it’s heading more towards Puebla. The rest of the states don’t have any ash fall and we’re monitoring day and night that there’s no panic.”

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Mexican volcano belches smoke and ash

The winds blew a large ash plume eastward over the states of Puebla and Veracruz and possibly the Bay of Campeche and beyond.

On Monday, the Mexican government raised the alert level for volcano activity from 17,797ft (5,424m) and in-person instruction was suspended in parts of three states.

Volcanic ash from the Popocatépetl volcano blankets the Mexican city of Atlixco.  Peak AP
Volcanic ash from the Popocatépetl volcano blankets the Mexican city of Atlixco. Peak AP

With nearly nine million inhabitants, Mexico City is the largest city in North America.

Mexico’s Defense Ministry said Sunday that 6,500 troops were on standby if needed.

A soldier stands at a checkpoint blocking access to Paso de Cortes as the Popocatepetl volcano spews a column of steam and ash, seen from San Nicolas de los Ranchos in Puebla state, Mexico on 23 May 2023. REUTERS/Armando Vega NO RESALES.  NO ARCHIVES
Winds blew a large plume of ash eastward over the states including Puebla

Popocatepetl came into existence in 1994 after decades of inactivity and saw periods of greatest activity from 2000 to 2003 and from 2012 to 2016.

Civil Defense Coordinator Laura Velazquez said on Sunday that the traffic light-type warning system for the volcano remained yellow, but had moved to phase three.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

In this phase, large domes grow and explode with increasing intensity, throwing glowing rocks into the air and pyroclastic flows down its flanks.

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Still, she said, “there is no risk to the population at this time.”

Only three of the volcano’s 565 explosions since September have been significant, and the current activity is not the highest this century, Velazquez added.


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