Ash from Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano forced the closing of the international airport serving the country’s fourth largest city, Puebla, on Saturday – the third such closure in less than a week.
Eruptions Friday night and Saturday morning sent red-hot rock flying more than a mile from the crater and a cloud of ash and vapor 4 km (2.5 mi) into the air, as tremors and loud rumblings sent residents scurrying into the streets as far as 10 km away. The weekend activity was strongest since the alert level was raised to yellow stage-3 last month – fifth on a seven-step scale.
More than 30 million people live within sight of the 17,900 ft. volcano, located 30 km (18.6 mi) west of Puebla and 80 km (50 mi) southeast of Mexico City in Central Mexico.
Although no evacuations have yet been called for, emergency centers have been set up in the event the eruptions intensify. Those living near the volcano have been urged to be prepared to leave on short notice should conditions change.
Popocatepetl’s most recent, major eruptions occured in 1994 and 2000, the latter causing nearly 50,000 residents to evacuate.