Colombia: Nevado del Huila volcanic eruption OCHA Situation Report No. 2

Situation Report
Originally published
Key issues

Volcanic Eruption Nevado del Huila.

Approximately 3,000 persons affected by the eruption are receiving humanitarian assistance.


The volcano Nevado del Huila is located in the Parque Natural Nacional Nevado del Huila, with peaks ranging between 2,600 and 5,780 meters in height over sea level.


An aerial reconnaissance conducted in the morning, by the Colombian Air Force and Army, Ingeominas experts observed "superficial changes in the volcanic surface, the presence of gas columns approximately 3,000 meters in height over the peak, blowing in a westerly direction, with the appearance of new emission points in the lower parts of the central and La Cresta peaks. The mudflows resulting from the eruption affected the basins of the Páez and Simbola rivers. According to IDEAM (meteorological institute) data registered along the Páez River at the height of Paicol (Huila) municipality, with increases in the levels 11 times the size of the basin, and with a level 5 meters above average.

In addition, INGEOMINAS reported that with the passage of several hours, seismic activity showed a significant decrease both in number of events and energy released, as a result of a relaxation in the system. Nonetheless, there were still events registered associated with the fracturing of rocks and the passage of fluids related with the current volcanic process.

4:35 PM
17 April
Registration of seismic activity associated with rock fracturing, located on the central peak of the volcano
5:20 PM
17 April
Registered over a 45 minute period approximately 24 seismic events at the same site
5:20 PM
17 April
INGEOMINAS declares an upgrade in alert levels from Yellow to Orange due to a possible eruption
9:44 PM
17 April
An increase in seismic activity which INGEOMINAS associates with the evolution of an eruption event
10:45 PM
17 April
The first reaction of the volcano occurs with the emission of gases and sound
11:58 PM
17 April
Stronger noises and the emission of mudflows
02:57 AM
18 April
According to an INGEOMINAS report, a volcanic eruption in Nevado del Huila
6:30 AM
18 April
IDEAM reports that the water levels of the Páez river reach their maximum point at the Paicol hydrological station, marking 6.79 meters, 4.6 meters over the level before the avalanche.
A flow of approximately 120 cubic meters per second, yesterday, increased to 2,300 meters per second, or 19 times the level before the event.
6:45 AM
18 April
Avalanche reported in Inzá municipality.
9:40 AM
18 April
Avalanche reported passing La Plata municipality, with calculation of arrival at Betania reservoir in 1 and a half hours.

Taken from Press Bulletin #2. Direction of Disaster Prevention and Attention. 18 April 2007, afternoon.


The National and Regional Directions of Disaster Prevention and Attention registered no loss of human lives or injuries among the affected populations. However, preliminary information reported by the indigenous Governor of the Tálaga community in Cauca Department, a family composed by 5 persons resulted missing.

The Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca -CRIC reported that there was contamination related to volcanic ashes and mudflow in water sources, as well as loss of crops and the death of livestock. The allegedly affected population may round 31,820 people. However the census of affected populations is still in progress.

The main roads network was affected by structural damages and the destruction of 14 bridges. As result an unknown number of villages remain still inaccessible by road. However, the area is covered by a radio communication system.

National Response

According to preliminary information, approximately 3,000 persons, located in the affected areas, are receiving humanitarian assistance provided by all the entities encompassing the National Disaster Prevention and Attention System (Civil Defense, Colombian Red Cross, etc.)

The hospital network in Huila, Tolima, Cauca and Valle del Cauca departments is prepared to attend any type of emergency and the Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca- ACIN is sending medical supplies to affected areas.

In addition, a Crisis Room was created in the office of Emergencies in Huila and Cauca departments, and an Operational Emergency Committees are permanently monitoring the emergency.

The installations of INGEOMINAS in Cauca Department capital, Popayán, are now placed with a Unified Command Post under the direction of the Colombian Red Cross, which will operate for 24 hours.

The National Direction of Disaster Prevention as the coordinating entity and in collaboration of the regional committees already started leading damages and needs assessments.

International Response

UNETE met in the morning with National Direction of Disaster Prevention, and was officially informed that no international call for humanitarian assistance will be declared, since the contingency plans had functioned and currently the situation is under control.

OCHA and PAHO have sent two national officers to support the activities of the CREPADs in Cauca and Huila.

PAHO as of yesterday, 17 April had completed a training workshop on emergencies and disasters in the healthcare sector in the municipalities in the area around the volcano, which were affected today.

OCHA is in close contact with the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Colombia and will provide further information as it becomes available.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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