Disasters & Accidents

Life goes on as usual near erupting volcano in central Mexico

By Gabriela García Guzmán

Puebla, Mexico, May 17 (EFE).- Life goes on as usual for those living near the Popocatépetl volcano in central Mexico’s Puebla state despite the volcanic activity as they have become accustomed to living with the danger it poses.

Over the last 17 days, the volcano has expelled incandescent material and ash with the dust reaching Puebla, Hidalgo and the State of Mexico in the central part of the country, prompting municipal, state and federal authorities to be on alert.

On Wednesday, Mexican Army, National Guard, and Civil Protection personnel toured the eight evacuation routes near Puebla state to check if they were accessible and in good condition to be able to evacuate citizens in case of a greater volcanic activity.

The Mexican authorities have been analyzing Popocatépetl’s activity on a daily basis since it began a new episode of activity in 1994.

In San Pedro Benito Juárez, the municipality that is closest to the volcano, citizens go about their normal activities, arguing that they are no longer afraid of the activity of “Don Goyo”, as the volcano is popularly known, as they have already become accustomed to the rumblings and movements in the earth that cause its expulsions.

Local resident, Gabriela Ramos Martínez, told EFE that while she is no longer afraid to live next to the volcano, she is concerned for her six-month-old baby.

“At the same time it’s scary, but then one calms down and it passes, we see it and we say it’s not going to start erupting yet, as the volcano is active, but I already have my papers ready for any emergency, if something happens I’ll just take them,” she said.

Another resident, Angela Garcia, said that in recent months the authorities have not come to support the locals or to tell them what to do in case of an emergency.

“I barely saw the military yesterday when they arrived. The activity of the volcano, which is spewing sand, ash, began two months ago and no one budged, so when they (the military) came, I told them: ‘now what for?’” she said jokingly.

On the other hand, Clemencia Castro told EFE that they were willing to stay in their home in case the volcano erupted.

This is because, 10 years ago, when the volcano was displaying similar or stronger activity and the locals were asked to evacuate, she and her family waited for several hours to board a truck or for a neighbor to make a space for them, but they received no help and ended up returning home despite the danger they faced.

The authorities of Atlixco, which has been affected by ashfall, has decided to distribute 3,500 masks daily in several parts of the city, urging citizens to use them since ash can cause respiratory diseases.

Some 77 shelters have also been set up to accommodate 46,309 people, army officer Santiago Perez said.

The volcano is located in the central part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt on the borders of the states of Mexico, Puebla and Morelos and 72 kilometers (45 miles) southeast of Mexico City. EFE


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