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Evacuation begins in Chile before volcano's imminent eruption


08:32, May 29, 2013

SANTIAGO, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Chilean authorities said that the evacuation of some 2,240 people began Tuesday in the southern town of Alto Biobio, close to Copahue volcano, whose eruption is imminent, local media reported.

"The government sent some 40 people who speak the local language to help explain to the people why they have to leave home for their own safety," said Victor Lobos, Mayor of Biobio region, in southern Chile.

The Chilean government ordered the evacuation of the people living within a 25-kilometer radius of the volcano. The majority of the people are part of the Pehuenche ethnic group.

Some 700 people were evacuated Tuesday, most of them women and children, while men will be allowed to stay more time so they can move their animals.

Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi) confirmed the volcano 's imminent eruption.

"The technical entity says we have 95 percent of possibilities of eruption, which can occur at any moment within the next 10 days, including a violent eruption. Therefore, we have a complex situation," said Gonzalo Arroyo, Onemi's regional director in Biobio.

Chilean authorities have stressed that evacuation is obligatory, not voluntary.

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