The Nevado del Ruiz volcano, in western Colombia, registers an increase in its seismic activity that could trigger an eruption, authorities warned this Friday.
"We have an orange alert due to the change in seismology at the Ruiz volcano. Mayors must prepare the protocols for this state of alert"warned President Gustavo Petro on Twitter.
According to the Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD), "this level indicates that in days or weeks" the colossus "could erupt more than it has in the last decade".
Some 57,000 people residing in the 22 municipalities closest to the volcano’s crater are under "high threat" for eventual "pyroclastic flows and surges, debris avalanches, ashfall and lava flows"depending on the entity.
"They will not be initially evacuated, they will be in the process of enlistment" for a possible evacuation, explained Javier Pava, director of the UNGRD, in a press conference at the end of the afternoon.
"The Air Force, the Navy, the Police, the Army, firefighters, the Red Cross, Civil Defense, all are enlisting"added Pava, and specified that the decision to transfer the residents will depend on the daily monitoring of the National Geological Service (SGN).
The Los Nevados Natural Park, which covers the surroundings of Ruiz, closed access to the public.
Nevado del Ruiz is remembered for the tragedy in the missing city of Armero in November 1985, when its eruption caused an avalanche and left some 25,000 dead.
The three-day agony of Omaira Sánchez (13 years old) was recorded by the world’s media and became a symbol of the worst natural disaster in the history of Colombia and one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.
According to the SGN, "On March 29, the largest number of daily earthquakes was recorded since monitoring began" of this volcano in 1985, with more than 11,000 earth movements.
However, the entity assured that a possible eruption "not imminent"but "only a probability against which the authorities must be prepared".
"The community is advised to remain calm"he added in a newsletter.
The snowy peak, which reaches almost 5,400 meters of altitude, is one of the many volcanoes in the "Fire belt" from Pacific.
Nicknamed the "sleeping lion"the volcano became active at the end of 1986 after decades of silence.
The departments of Tolima, Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and Cundinamarca are on alert, according to the UNGRD.
The entity noted that the "situation can be prolonged" and recommended the authorities of the affected regions to prepare "evacuation plans"routes "marked and in good condition" and "assess access restrictions to some areas".
El Ruiz is one of the 25 active and monitored volcanoes that exist in Colombia.