The Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia could erupt in days or weeks. Increased seismic activity has been observed in the vicinity of its cone for some time, and puffs of smoke are emerging from the crater. Despite the danger, the inhabitants of the region do not want to leave their homes.
Volcano Nevado del Ruiz, Colombia may explode soon. On Friday, March 31, the Geological Survey raised its eruption alert level from yellow to orange, meaning an eruption is likely within days or weeks. Local authorities are trying to evacuate as many people as possible from the area around the volcano, but not all residents want to leave their belongings.
Between theft and eruption
About 2,500 families living around Nevado del Ruiz are being evacuated, Reuters reported. Preemptive evacuation is necessary because, in the event of an eruption, outdated infrastructure can make contact with those living closest to the volcano difficult. Many residents, however, refuse to evacuate.
“It doesn’t scare me because it’s exploded before.” I was here then,” one resident told Reuters. – Of course it made noise, because it’s a huge crater, so when the rocks were flying, it was loud. (…) The last time it exploded, rocks fell on the roof of our house.
Other residents admit that they are afraid of an eruption, but see no other option than to accept their fate. “If you leave your belongings, crops and animals here, nothing will be left of them when you come back,” explained one local farmer.
An adviser to the Colombian president, Luis Fernando Velasco, said villagers were afraid to participate in the pre-emptive evacuation because their belongings could be stolen. Authorities want to help residents evacuate livestock away from the alert zone, and some farmers have been allowed to return to their farms daily to tend to them.
A catastrophe from years ago
If the volcano erupts, the effects will be felt in an area inhabited by almost 60,000 people. Authorities fear that the scale of the disaster will be similar to that which occurred in 1985. The pyroclastic material coming out of the volcano then melted the ice cap of the mountain, causing the formation of lahars – avalanches of mud, rocks and volcanic ash.
The element completely engulfed the city of Armero and the surrounding settlements – waves of mud fell on houses in the middle of the night, burying sleeping people under the rubble. It is estimated that more than 25,000 people died as a result of the eruption. It was the worst natural disaster in Colombian history and the fourth deadliest volcanic eruption in human history.
Reuters, phys.org, TVN24, tvnmeteo.pl
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/Ernesto Guzman Jr