Volcano shoots rocks and smoke close to city

Fear as eruptions send smoke five miles high
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The Independent US

The Popocatepetl Volcano that towers over the Mexico City region shot rocks and a plume of ash and smoke more than 5 miles high yesterday, alarming people who had been evacuated from nearby villages a month before.

The Popocatepetl Volcano that towers over the Mexico City region shot rocks and a plume of ash and smoke more than 5 miles high yesterday, alarming people who had been evacuated from nearby villages a month before.

Officials in Puebla state told the Radio Red network that the mushroom-shaped plume was one of the largest since the 17,886-foot (5,450-metre) volcano began a cycle of eruptions in 1994 after decades of relative dormancy.

The government's National Center for the Prevention of Disasters, which monitors the volcano, said a 2.8-magnitude earthquake shook the volcano Monday afternoon. A small burst of steam followed 17 minutes later, and an hour after that, the volcano shot out a plume of ash and steam that reached 5 miles high.

The eruption sent rocks flying from the crater and caused a flow of ash three miles down the volcano's canyons. Ash was also falling on communities north and south of the crater.

There were no plans to evacuate villages at the volcano's base, and authorities called residents to remain calm.

Though the volcano is only 40 miles south-east of Mexico City, experts say it poses little danger beyond a possible sprinkling of ash on North America's largest city.

On December 18, the volcano staged its most violent eruption in 1,200 years, spewing a fiery plume and convincing thousands who live at its base to flee to shelters set up in safe areas. The villagers were allowed to return on December 27.

Although the volcano has quieted since then, officials have warned that occasional eruptions are possible as energy builds inside the volcano's crater.

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