SANTIAGO Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi) said on Thursday it extended a red alert to additional locales near the Llaima volcano, even though the intensity of the volcanic activity had decreased.
Llaima, one of the most active volcanoes in South America, spewed pyroclastic rock 1,300 feet into night skies early Thursday morning, spooking residents a week after lava shot down one of its sides.
Onemi said later in the day that 19 people were in the process of being evacuated from around the volcano's base, including six employees at the Las Araucarias ski resort.
The office said it decided to evacuate the areas even though the intensity of volcanic activity decreased in the day.
"It's a phenomenon that can undergo big fluctuations, so we think there is still a risk that the Calbuco and Lan Lan rivers could overflow," Onemi Director Carmen Fernandez told Reuters.
Llaima, about 435 miles south of the capital Santiago, belched fiery volcanic rocks into the sky above its crater at 3:20 a.m. and the images were caught on national television.
Onemi activated emergency committees in the villages of Vilcun, Melipeuco and Curacautin as a result, also putting local police and fire departments on alert.
Snow-capped Llaima, near Chile's picturesque lake region, erupted violently on New Year's Day, forcing the evacuation of some tourists and residents from the surrounding Conguillio National Park.
The 10,253-foot volcano then belched ash and lava in February and saw renewed activity last week that required the evacuation of about 50 people.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Martinez; writing by Pav Jordan, editing by Philip Barbara)