Colombia

Colombia: Volcano - Information Bulletin n° 2

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This bulletin is being issued for information only.

Since 19 April 2008, the Nevado del Huila volcano, located between the departments of Cauca, Huila and Tolima, has been sporadically causing tremors and emitting gas and ashes. Funds from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) were allocated in April 2008 to assist those who were affected. In addition, on 11 November an Information bulletin was issued informing the increase in activity of the Huila and Machin volcanoes.

On the night of 20 November the Nevado del Huila erupted leading to mud flows along the Paez river and evacuation of people to safer ground in the nearby areas.

The Colombian Red Cross Society (CRCS) is still in the process of carrying out damage and needs assessments and does not require external support at this time.

The Situation

The Nevado del Huila volcano, located between the departments of Cauca, Huila and Tolima, has been in sporadic activity since 18 April 2008. After subsiding for a while, the volcano resumed activities in the first week of November 2008. According to reports received by people living in the area, on 20 November the volcano erupted, causing two mud flows along the Paez river and affecting the road infrastructure of the region. The situation is currently in red alert which means an eruption phase is imminent or in course. At the moment, the eruption has stopped although the volcanic phenomenon continues emitting gases and ashes.

People living in the surrounding communities of Taravira, Toez and La Estrella in the department of Cauca mentioned abundant ashes and noise. The Volcanic Ash Advisories Centre (VAAC) from Washington reported two columns of gas and ash reaching up to approximately 7,000 - 10,000 meters from the tip of the volcano. 200 people were evacuated in the communities of Paicol y Tesalia and 3,000 more in Belalcazar.

According to preliminary assessments one person was injured and one is missing. 25 houses and six bridges have sustained damages due to the mudslides. Also, the roads in the municipality of Belalcazar, Cauca has been affected.

The Colombian National System for Disaster Preparedness and Response (Sistema Nacional de Prevención y Atención de Desastres - SNPAD) has activated its operative systems and has increased monitoring over the Paez and Simbola rivers. A flight has been scheduled by the Colombian Air Force to evaluate the affected area. Damage and needs assessments are on-going, however preliminary reports by the CRCS indicate the most urgent needs are food and water.

On the night of the eruption, the population living nearby the volcano was evacuated to safe zones in accordance with the Contingency Plan. On 21 November, most families are returning to their homes with the exception of families whose houses were damaged.

The Colombian Mining and Geology Institute (Instituto Colombiano de Mineria y Geologia, INGEOMINAS) has been following the events closely and will continue to report any changes on the volcano's activities.