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Peru Declares State of Emergency as Ubinas Erupts Again

Posted by feww on September 13, 2013

Volcanic ash from Ubinas sickening nearby residents

Ubinas Volcano’s 10th eruption since September 1, 2013 prompted the authorities to declare a 60-day state of emergency in various districts of the Moquegua and Arequipa departments, which are affected by volcanic emissions, especially silica ash, and near constant explosions.

The latest eruption sent a plume of ash and smoke to a height of about 2,500 meters above the crater summit, said the Geophysical Institute of Peru.

Ubinas - El Comercio- Carlos Zanabria
Ubinas Volcano. Photo credit: El Comercio/Carlos Zanabria

The silica ash from the volcano is damaging crops, polluting water sources, and threatening villagers and their livestock.

Authorities are distributing face masks and evacuating villagers living closest to the volcano. They are also planning to relocate at least one village to a safe area.

El Comercio reported earlier this week that some residents in the nearby town of Querapi, which authorities are planning to relocate,  had arrived at a local hospital complaining of vomiting, headaches, and stomach pain, most likely cause by ingesting silica ash.

Villagers are also concerned for the health of their livestock, a major source of income. “In the district of Ubinas alone, there are an estimated 40,000 llamas and alpacas. According to El Comercio, up to 15% of these animals could be seriously affected by the silica ash, which has contaminated their grazing areas.”

Peru’s most active volcano, Ubinas is located about 70 kilometers from the city of Arequipa (metro pop: ~ 1,260,000), and 1,250km south of the capital Lima, close to the country’s Pacific coast, about  230 km east of the Peru-Chile trench and about 150 km above the Benioff-Wadati plane, where the Nazca plate is subducting under the continental part of the South American Plate.

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