More than 2,000 people in two countries were evacuated Monday following a forecast that Copahue volcano in the Andes Cordillera mountain range is anticipated to erupt. According to officials, evacuation was mandatory for over 460 families living in areas surrounding the volcano in Chile and Argentina.
USA Today reported that according to Chilean Interior and Security Minister Andres Chadwick, 2,240 people living within 15.5 miles of the active site were evacuated from their homes as of Monday. The evacuation, which is currently in red alert, is expected to last a minimum 48 hours for residents in Chile’s Bio Bio region and Argentina’s Neuquen province.
“This evacuation is obligatory. It’s not voluntary,” said Chadwick, who said the alert will remain in place even though the eruption is not definite. “Our main duty is to protect the population,” he said.
As of Tuesday morning the volcano had yet to erupt; The 10,000-foot natural structure has reportedly been a cause for concern for Chilean officials since seismic activity reached high levels with ash clouds measuring close to one mile in height.
“The volcano is not erupting yet, but as a preventative measure we’ve decided to evacuate the population,” said a Neuquen Crisis Committee member. “… In the last days, seismic activity has increased. That’s the reason behind the change of alert in Argentina and Chile.”
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Accoring to Weather.com, Copahue is one of Chile’s 500 currently active volcanoes and is located 50 miles outside of Chile’s capital, Santiago. Chile last issued a red alert for the eruption of Copahue in December 2012. The volcano's last eruption occured in 1992.