| 54 people rescued after Chile volcano eruption
| Wednesday, January 2, 2008
|SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Rescue workers evacuated 54 tourists and staff from a Chilean wilderness park on Wednesday after one of the country's largest volcanoes erupted, spewing ash and molten lava.
There were no reports of injuries or damage, but dozens of tourists were evacuated from the base of the volcano after it erupted on Tuesday evening.
The 54 people rescued on Wednesday had been stranded after a local river swelled with meltwater and cut off road access.
"Army personnel evacuated 43 people this morning who remained in the Conguillio National Park. Another 11 people, park personnel and their family members, were also evacuated," Chile's National Emergency Office (Onemi) said in a statement.
Earlier the Onemi had reported 53 people trapped by the eruption.
Military ground vehicles had to be used in the rescue because heavy fog surrounding the volcano prevented the use of helicopters.
The surrounding Conguillio National Park, about 50 miles
from the city of Temuco, was closed off to visitors on Wednesday and authorities asked curious tourists not to get too close.
"At this moment I would recommend against tourism in the area," Onemi director Carmen Fernandez said on national television.
The volcano is one of the country's most active and is in the Araucania region in southern Chile, about 420 miles (700 km) south of the capital Santiago.
Before the eruption, people in the towns closest to the volcano said they heard loud noises underground.
The Llaima volcano in southern Chile began erupting at 18:20 p.m. (2130 GMT) on Tuesday and it was unclear how long it would continue. It sent a column of smoke and ash into the air and spewed lava down the east side of the mountain.
The 10,253-foot (3,125-meter) volcano has frequent moderate eruptions.
|posted by Moderator Londen time 7:20 PM