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Volcano blast meets storm in the Chilean sky

Chile, S.A.
Two of nature’s most spectacular forces produced an incredible brew in the skies of Chile as a volcanic eruption met a lightning storm. Tons of dust and ash from the eruption of the Chaitén volcano poured into the night sky just as an electric storm passed overhead. The resulting collision of two unstoppable forces created a spectacular and RARELY SEEN sight as lightning flickered around the dust cloud amid the orange glow of the volcano. Authorities in Chile were increasingly worried by the violence of the eruption Monday when lava began spewing out with increased ferocity. “The situation has changed suddenly. Today the volcano is erupting with pyroplastic material on a different scale.” The change in intensity of the eruption prompted the authorities to order the evacuation of the remaining 300 people from the area, including military personnel brought in to help. More than 4,000 people had already been evacuated from the town of Chaitén. Getting people out of the area has been complicated by difficult and remote terrain. They do not expect a catastrophic collapse of the volcano, but do expect a cloud of dense, very hot material to hit the surrounding area. “This produces a more complicated scenario. A dense cloud of pyroplastic material could move down its slopes, and that causes much more damage [than a spray of lava]...Lava flow would not reach Chaitén, but hot fragments, ash and gas could.” In the worst-affected areas, ash is more than 15cm thick in places, coating houses, vehicles and trees and contaminating water supplies. The authorities are moving cattle from the area.

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