Disasters & Accidents

Alert level hiked as activity increases within Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano

Puebla, Mexico, May 21 (EFE).- Mexican authorities raised the volcano alert stoplight to the “Yellow 3 Phase” on Sunday after Mt. Popocatepetl, over the past three days, has significantly increased its activity, emitting large amounts of ash over central Mexico that has resulted in the halting of airport activities and the suspension of in-person school classes.

At a press conference, Laura Velazquez, the national Civil Protection coordinator, announced that her agency has begun cooperating with authorities in the central state of Puebla to undertake prevention, mitigation and preparation activities within the scope of “Plan Popocatepetl,” which includes measures in the educational and social spheres.

In announcing a meeting on May 22 to review the coordinated activities by local, state and national authorities, Velazquez said that authorities were raising the alert level from Yellow 2 to Yellow 3 due to the fact that seismic activity within the volcano has increased from “intermediate” to “high,” including the growth and alterations in lava domes, ongoing emissions of ash and gases, as well as light ashfall in the vicinity of the fire mountain.

She recommended that Mexican authorities, as per Civil Protection guidelines and announcements, inform the public of the situation, prepare personnel, evacuation teams and shelters to be utilized if needed.

Specific measures will be undertaken to protect the most vulnerable members of society, launch efforts to mitigate the effect of ashfall and rocks spewed from the volcano, alert the air navigation authorities and limit access to Popocatepetl over a wide area.

Ash has been falling in Puebla state since Sunday morning after explosions of water, vapors and ash from the huge volcano, resulting in the cancellation of open-air events in several cities.

Ash has been collecting on vehicles, buildings and streets, and shopowners have had to sweep it away from the entrances to their stores.

The streets in the state capital of Puebla and the cities of San Pedro Cholula and San Andres Cholula are practically empty as people stay indoors to avoid coming in contact with, or breathing, the ash.

The few people who were out on the streets, EFE noted, were generally buying food and wearing wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and other protective clothing.

EFE –/bp

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