Volcanic activity near Mexico City
Hot rocks fly but experts don't say 'eruption'
April 29, 1997
Web posted at: 3:15 p.m. EDT (1915 GMT)
MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- Scientists were keeping a close eye on
the Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico Tuesday after
red-hot rocks from small overnight eruptions ignited huge
fires on grazing lands and frightened farmers on the
But as activity died down with the daybreak authorities
decided not to evacuate the area around the volcano, which
lies only 40 miles east of Mexico City.
Authorities refused to call the activity eruptions,
preferring to label them "puffs."
"It is a question of semantics but we do not believe in
using the word explosion because it can be misinterpreted,"
said Roberto Qaas, in charge of monitoring Popocatepetl
at the National Disaster Prevention Center.
"There was this enormous bang in the middle of the night,
which woke us all," said Procopio Atenco, mayor of the town
of San Nicolas, which lies in the shadow of the
Three other blasts also rocked local villages in the early
hours as blocked lava ducts in the volcano yielded to
mounting pressure, throwing up red-hot rocks and ash over a
radius of one mile, authorities said.
There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries,
although authorities maintained an alert for people living
close to the crater at a height of the 17,883 feet.
At dawn, plumes of white smoke still poured from the crater,
Residents reported that clouds of ash had fallen in the
night, covering houses and fields.
One fire raged over an area of 15 hectares (38 acres) on the
side of the snowcapped, conical peak, one of the most active
in Mexico, TV network Televisa said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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