- Residents say the volcano spewed a lot of ash, darkened the sky
- San Cristobal Volcano erupted Saturday, a government agency reports
- Three explosions send gas and ashes more than two miles into the sky
- The volcano's last known eruption was last year, Smithsonian says
More than 1,500 people have been evacuated after a volcano in western Nicaragua erupted Saturday, shooting gas and ash 2 1/2 miles into the sky, government officials said.
Explosions at San Cristobal Volcano -- located in the department of Chinandega about 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of the Honduran border and 130 kilometers north of the capital, Managua -- began around 8:45 a.m. Saturday, according to an assessment from SINAPRED, Nicaragua's federal emergency and disaster management agency.
"We have to be careful and take all appropriate measures for the families that are there and families from neighboring towns," first lady Rosario Murillo told the EL19 government-run newspaper. She said 400 families have been moved.
"I have seen it bring ashes, but not like now," Jose Espinoza, who lives near the volcano, said. "It surprised us because it is a powerful volcano and to see it like this would make anyone panic."
Jacinta Carazo, another resident, told CNN that an eruption in 2006 brought a lot of mud but this one was mostly ash.