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Subject: Re: Popocatepetl
From: Seisguy@.......
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 13:33:35 EST

Crowds Flee Spewing Mexico Volcano

..c The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Calling it a pressure cooker with a rattling lid, 
officials kept a wary eye on a towering volcano Saturday and ordered 
thousands evacuated as the fiery crater spat out gas, vapor and ash for a 
fifth straight day. 

Although there were fewer eruptions Friday and Saturday, experts feared the 
Popocatepetl Volcano could begin spewing lava. Intense, unprecedented seismic 
activity inside the volcano indicated that magma may be moving within, said 
scientist Roberto Quass of the National Center for Disaster Prevention. 

Many in towns near the crater have felt a series of small earthquakes. 

``We have a pressure cooker, and the valve is beginning to shake,'' volcano 
expert Carlos Valdez said. 

The volcano, located 40 miles southeast of Mexico City, overlooks the 
sprawling capital. Residents in the volcano's shadow have been walking the 
streets with medical masks over their mouths to avoid inhaling the ash. 

On Friday, authorities ordered the evacuation of 14,000 people in 11 
communities within eight miles of the crater. Smoke billowed from 
Popocatepetl's mouth as more than 300 buses arrived to take people from its 
slopes to government shelters a safe distance away. 

But despite the glowing crater, many residents did not want to leave. It has 
been 800 years since Popocatepetl's last catastrophic eruption, and many were 
skeptical of official warnings. 

The last time officials ordered an evacuation was six years ago, when the 
volcano started erupting after lying largely dormant since 1927. 

``I'm rethinking leaving because we don't have much, but the little that we 
do have, they'll probably rob,'' said Rodrigo Sevilla, 40, as soldiers nearby 
helped load people onto buses to leave his town, Xalitzintla. 

The 17,886-foot volcano has been shooting out vapor, ash and rock 
intermittently since December 1994, but the activity has been especially 
intense of late. On Tuesday, it erupted 200 times, a record number for a 
single day. On Thursday, it threw ash over a 50-mile radius and spat 
incandescent fragments that rolled down its slopes. 

Airlines canceled up to 30 flights into the Mexico City airport for a second 
straight day amid fears the ash could interfere with their engines. Most 
flights, though, went ahead as scheduled. 

AP-NY-12-16-00 1029EST

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Larry Cochrane <cochrane@..............>