Bummed out by winter? Try running from a volcano!
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One of South America's most active volcanoes has erupted. It is located in southern Chile. It was spewing heavy smoke into the air as lava surged down its slopes.
The volcano has prompted authorities to evacuate thousands of people. Authorities worried that mudslides caused by melting snow could endanger nearby communities.
The Villarrica volcano erupted early Tuesday. That is according to the National Emergency Office. Media showed images of the volcano bursting at the top. It was glowing in the dark. There was heavy smoke and rivers of lava.
The 9,000 foot volcano is in Chile's central valley. It is 400 miles south of Santiago. It sits above the small city of Pucon. The city has a population of about 22,000.
Chilean authorities had issued a alert because of increased activity at the volcano. About 3,500 people have been evacuated. Those include tourists, said Interior and Security Minister Rodrigo Penailillo.
Penailillo warned that the eruption had caused numerous rivers in the area to rise. That was because the snow along the sides of the volcano began to melt. Villarrica is covered by a glacier cap. The cap covers some 15 square miles and snow is from about 5,000 feet on up.
Authorities were keeping an eye on four communities. They could be endangered by mudslides as the snow melts.
Tourists flock to the area around Villarrica. They enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, horseback riding, fishing and hiking around the volcano. It last had a major eruption in 1984. Dozens of tourists were among those evacuated.
President Michelle Bachelet announced that she will travel to the volcano-hit area to check on safety preparations. She asked residents to remain calm.
The Villarrica has a crater of about 200 yards in diameter. It also has a lake of lava about 150 yards deep. the volcano erupts every 10 or 15 years.
Chile has more than 2,000 volcanoes in the Andes cordillera. About 90 of them remain active. Villarrica is considered among the country's most dangerous.
Critical thinking challenge: What makes the area around Villarrica good for hiking?