(TELESUR) – Over 1,300 people were affected when the Ubinas volcano erupted in southern Peru, President Martin Vizcarra said while announcing a state of emergency over the region Saturday.
“The emergency declaration is for 60 days and the municipalities and regional governments may act immediately, but we, as the central government, are also working with the various ministries,” Vizcarra said after inspecting ash emissions in the Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna regions that border with or are near Chile and Bolivia.
According to the Civil Defense, 1,345 people were affected by the eruption while 18 schools and five health centers have been forced to temporarily close.
Ash and gas surged from volcano’s mouth, spreading to both the east and southeast, the Geophysical Institute of Peru (IGP) reported, adding that the explosion measured a magnitude of 5.3 to 5.8 on the Richter scale.
“Currently, there are explosions and an increase in seismic activity that would be related to intense ash emissions that are affecting villages in the Ubina Valley. Consequently, it is recommended that the authorities raise the level of volcanic alert from yellow to orange,” the IGP said in a statement.
Fumaroles and gas emissions signalled the oncoming eruption days before Ubinas—the nation’s most active volcano—erupted.
Generally, the level of alert is determined when or if the eruption is higher than a kilometer, when there is a substantial level of ash and rocks are ejected from the crater’s core.
Peru is in the so-called “Pacific fire belt,” an area with a high incidence of earthquakes and volcanic activity.