Peru: Ubinas Volcano OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2006/0064
Ubinas Volcano - Peru
OCHA Situation Report No.1

This situation report is based on information provided to OCHA by the office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Peru and media reports.


1. On 27 March 2006 the volcano Ubinas, located in the district of Ubinas in the province of General Sánchez Cerro, department of Moquegua, in the south of the country, started emitting smoke and ash after almost 40 years of inactivity. Since 13 April, an increase in seismic activity has been recorded and ash, smoke and toxic gas emissions have intensified with ash falling on the towns of Ubinas, Querapi and Sacohaya. On 14 April, sulphuric gases released in the atmosphere generated acid rains, affecting the same localities. On 20 and 21 April, explosions spewed out incandescent stones and ash in a 4 km radius from the crater. In the course of 23 April there was a scale-up in terms of volcanic activity, with 5 explosions and 200 tremors in the time span of 48 hours.

2. On 5 April, following an evaluation mission involving 5 scientific institutes, the regional government, the Civil Defense of Moquegua and Arequipa, the Disaster Studies and Prevention Centre (Centro de Estudios y Prevención de Desastres / PREDES), and the mayors of the most affected districts, a Yellow Alert Level was declared. On 21 April, the Alert Level was changed to Orange .

3. In Sánchez Cerro, the districts of Ubinas, Matalaque, Chojata, Lloque, Yunga, Ichuña, Coalaque, La Capilla, Omate, Puquina and Quinistilla are affected, and the district of San Juan de Taracuni, in Arequipa province. An evacuation plan containing several scenarios exists. PREDES is liaising with INDECI with respect to its activation. Two additional helicopters have been requested of the military for evacuation purposes. According to the media, 4 are on standby in Arequipa.


4. In the department of Moquegua, up to 7,000 residents will need to be evacuated if the Alert Level is raised to Red , but they might be reluctant to leave.

5. According to the Regional Health Directorate (DIRESA), the ash and gas emissions have affected 600 families in 5 villages located in a 5-10km radius from the volcano, causing eye and breathing problems as well as panic among the population. According to Civil Defense, the most affected localities are Querapi, Ubinas, Sacohaya, Anascapa, Tonohaya, Escacha, San Miguel, and Carmen de Chaclaya. Health problems such as headaches, depression, conjunctivitis, and acute throat conditions have been reported.

6. On 21-22 April the armed forces began evacuating 42 families (161 people) from Querapi, the village closest (4.5km) to the volcano, to a temporary settlement in Anascapa. By 25 April 32 families had been relocated there. Some families have remained in the area at risk to protect their homes, livestock and crops. The next communities to be evacuated by Civil Defence will be San Carlos de Titi, Santa Rosa de Phara, and Salinas Moche, although the destination has not yet been determined.

7. The Head of the National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI) has recommended to the regional authorities of Moquegua that they put in place strategies to permanently relocate the population of the areas close to the volcano, especially Ubinas, whose only access is by a dirt road through Querapi running high on the volcano slope. Studies will begin to consider the land of Pasto Grande near Ilo to receive them.

8. Deaths of alpacas in Chipini Chico and Chipini Grande communities have been reported, as well as the intoxication of 10% of the lamas and alpacas in Ubinas due to the grazing of grass exposed to volcanic products.

9. The accumulation of ash is destroying crops, and contaminating the river and water sources.

National and Local Response

10. On 22 April, the President of Peru declared a state of emergency in the 12 affected districts.

11. A high level Governmental delegation, including the ministers of health and agriculture and the Head of the National Civil Defense Institute, went to Ubinas on 23 April. On the same day, eight tons of humanitarian aid supplies, including water, food, 200 tents, powdered milk, diapers and feeding bottles for infants, masks, and veterinary medication for intoxicated animals were transported by military plane to Arequipa.

12. On 18 April, a permanent Emergency Operations Centre was established in Ubinas. The regional Government of Moquegua, in coordination with Civil Defense, is preparing temporary shelters and collective kitchens for the evacuees.

13. DIRESA is educating the affected population about adequate water storage. On 12 April, INDECI and DIRESA distributed masks, plastic sheeting, water tanks, water containers, eyeglasses, and eye drops to the residents of Querapi and Sacohaya. DIRESA delivered a further two 1,500-litre water tanks on 21 April, and has sent two psychologists to the area.

14. A seismographer has been based in Querapi since 4 April, and volcanologists and scientists are headed for the area to evaluate the pollution of air and drinking water.

15. The UN Emergency Technical Team (UNETE) is monitoring the situation. On 15 April, UNICEF sent humanitarian assistance to the DIRESA in Moquegua. On 21 April, DIRESA and Caritas sent water storage and purification equipment to the affected areas.

16. Current requirements are for masks, eyeglasses, plastic cups, bottles and spoons, and water tanks and containers. A more detailed needs assessment is being conducted and will be shared by the Peruvian Agency for International Cooperation with the donor community in Lima.

17. The Moquegua regional government will be resuming road construction work to facilitate evacuation purposes. The Anascapa road will be given priority, followed by the Huarina Matalaque connexion, in Moquegua department, where 10-50 km (depending on sources) need rehabilitation. It will also be necessary to carry out maintenance on the road between Arequipa and Ubinas.

International response

18. INDECI sent a request for assistance through the National Centre for Disaster Prevention (Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres / CENAPRED) to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 20 April.

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

20. This situation report, together with further information on other ongoing emergencies is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

MAP: Peru: Ubinas Volcano - Situation map

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk officers:

Marie Spaak, direct Tel. +41-22-917 21 63

Press contact:

(in GVA) Ms. E. Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 265
(in N.Y.) Ms. S. Bunker, direct Tel. + 1-917 367 5126 or Mr. Brian Grogan, direct Tel. + 1-212-963 11 43


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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