Popocatepetl Volcano Erupts: A Plume Of Ash And Glowing Rock, Mexican Officals Do Not Order Evacuation

Popocatepetl volcano shot a heavy plume of ash into the sky, just southeast of Mexico's capital city, as it spewed glowing rock and magma from its crater around dawn on Friday.

Images show the site a smoky plume of ash and glowing rock, rising from the top 17,886-foot peak of Popocatepetl volcano, reported the Associated Press. Mexican television broadcast the images of the eruption rising from the crater and then travelling down the slopes of the volcano.

Earlier this week, officials placed a Yellow Level 3 alert at the volcano as the activity increased. The Mexican government has been taking appropriate safety precautions as the volcano began spewing fragments of rock, reported Reuters. Mexico's National Center for the Prevention of Disasters said they recorded eight vapor releases, earlier this week. The most serious occurred around 9 a.m. Sunday, sending vapor cloud a mile into the air, reported the Houston Chronicle.  This was a clear sign that an eruption could happen.

On Monday night, the center said that surrounding areas could experience significant explosions of growing intensity that hurl incandescent rocks significant distances, reported the Associated Press.

Tuesday morning, the center recorded a low amplitude tremor coming from Popocatépetl that lasted about 40 minutes, reported CNN.

The coordinator general for civil protection, Laura Gurza, said that officials were not ready to order any evacuations just yet. However, they are very, very attentive to the volcano and further developments, reported the Associated Press.  Gurza did urge residents to begin to gather important documents and items and plan an escape route in case the volcano begins to threaten them.

If it explodes, scientists are expecting an eruption of lava and spewing of ash if the volcano explodes, possibly endangering nearby villages and Mexico's capital, Mexico City. Scientists said they could also expect large amounts of ash and mud and lava to spew from the top.

The tiny town of Huejotizngo rests just 18 miles from the peak of Popocatepetl. However, residents did not seem fazed by the rumble of the volcano. People living near the volcano's base have endured this for years. Many see the volcano as one of their own, who would not hurt them.

He's just breathing up there, that's all, said Carmela Silvestre, 78, according to the New York Times. We're used to it.

Luz Maria De Olate, 35, gave her son a surgical mask, however, fearing the ash could cause damage to her son's lungs. However, she is not concerned for her safety and does not fear an eruption, nor does her son, Oscar.

I'm not afraid, said Oscar, reported the AP. He's my uncle, referring the uncle. Like Silvestre, Oscar has fondness and personal connection to the volcano.

Popocatepetl volcano is considered the most dangerous volcano in the world because of its proxity to the Mexico's capital city, Mexico City. It rests only about 40 miles away and over 30 million people live within areas surrounding the base.

The volcano's latest activity comes after a series of earthquakes struck southern and central Mexico in the past three weeks, reported the Houston Chronicle. On March 20, a 7.4 quake damaged hundreds of buildings in Oaxaca and Guerrero.

The volcano, which means Smoking Mountain in the native tongue of the Aztecs, is an active volcano that experiences exhalations often. On Dec. 18, 2000, the volcano had its most violent eruption in 1,200 years.

President Felipe Calderon said that Mexicans only living in some of the most difficult times of their lives and the eruption of the volcano would just be another layer on the cake to these trying times.

All we're missing is an eruption of Popocatepetl and we'll complete the picture, he said in a speech late Thursday, reported the AP. Hopefully not, he added, knocking on wood.

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