More than 14,000 people evacuated as volcano continues erupting

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The Independent US

Calling it a rattling pressure cooker, officials ordered the evacuation of more than 14,000 people Friday night who live near an erupting volcano as the fiery crater spat out gas, vapor and ash for a fourth straight day.

Calling it a rattling pressure cooker, officials ordered the evacuation of more than 14,000 people Friday night who live near an erupting volcano as the fiery crater spat out gas, vapor and ash for a fourth straight day.

Earthquake detectors Friday recorded intense seismic activity inside the Popocatepetl Volcano "never seen before," indicating a possible movement of magna, said scientist Roberto Quass of the National Center for Disaster Prevention.

"We have a pressure cooker and the valve is beginning to shake," added leading volcano expert Carlos Valdez during a news conference.

Smoke billowed from the crater of the volcano, which sits 40 miles south east of Mexico City, as more than 300 buses arrived to take people from Popocatepetl's slopes to government shelters set up a safe distance away.

The evacuated 11 communities are in the states of Mexico, Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala. More than 30,000 people live in the vicinity, but officials ordered the evacuation of only those communities within 12 kms (8 miles) of the volcano.

Despite its glowing crater, many local residents were resistant to leave. It's been 800 years since the volcano's last catastrophic eruption and many were skeptical of official warnings. The last time officials ordered an evacuation was six years ago, when the volcano started erupting after lying largely dormant since 1927.

"I'm rethinking leaving because we don't have much, but the little that we do have, they'll probably rob," said Rodrigo Sevilla, 40, as soldiers nearby helped load people on buses in his town of Xalitzintla.

Airlines canceled up to 30 flights into the Mexico City airport for a second straight day amid fears the ash could interfere with their engines. But most continued flying into the airport.

On Thursday, the volcano threw ash over a 50-mile radius and spat incandescent fragments that rolled down its slopes. On Tuesday, it erupted 200 times, a record number for a single day. Residents in villages surrounding the volcano have been walking the streets with medical masks over their mouths to avoid inhaling the ash.

The 17,886-foot volcano has been shooting out vapor, ash and rock intermittently since December 1994.

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