The Popocatepetl volcano in southeast Mexico released gas, smoke, and ash on Monday. Following the government’s increased degree of caution, education authorities in three states suspended in-person classes. A 7.5-mile exclusion zone has been established around the mountain as authorities prepare for evacuations. The ash cloud moved hundreds of kilometers to the east on Monday.
In Santiago Xalitzintla, alerts and preparation are regular, and fine ash was falling, but many were going about their normal business, considering it a natural spectacle. However, some were feeling anxious as increased activity can be unpredictable. Florencio de Olarte, 69, and Plácida de Aquino, 72, recalled having to evacuate their home in the center of town twice before and were willing to wait for authorities to give instructions this time.
National Civil Defense Coordinator Laura Velázquez said on Sunday that the warning system remained on yellow but had risen to phase 3. Intense pyroclastic flows descend the slopes of a volcano after large domes collapse and detonate. Although the volcano has had 565 explosions since September, with only three having been big, the current activity was not the greatest of this century.
Most of the city’s 25 million inhabitants are found within a 60-mile radius. While emergency facilities are being prepared, the Defense Department has suggested that 6,500 troops may be activated. Popocatepetl, which had been dormant for decades, erupted in 1994 and was active again between 2000 and 2003 and again between 2012 and 2016.