Francisco Negroni- AgenciaUnoAuthorities on southern Chile evacuated approximately 3500 people in the Los Lagos region (approximately 600 miles South of the capital city of Santiago) after a series of earthquakes and a volcanic eruption on Sunday in the Andes along the Chilean/Argentine border.
Authorities initially said the Puyehue volcano was involved, but later said the eruption was occurring about 2 1/2 miles (four kilometers) from that peak.
A rift more than six miles (10 kilometers) long and three miles (five kilometers) across was torn in the earth's crust, officials said Saturday night.
Authorities had put the area on alert Saturday morning after a flurry of earthquakes, and the eruption began in the afternoon.
The National Emergency Office said it recorded an average of 230 tremors an hour.
About 600 people were evacuated when the first alert went up and hundreds more left their homes after the eruption began.
Reuters photoThe wind carried the plume of ash to the east and across the mountains to western Argentina. Officials on the Argentine side of the border had to close down airports in Nequen and the mountain resort town of Bariloche while advising residents to stock up on food and water before sheltering in place.
Getty ImagesThe eruption also prompted the closure of Chilean national Highway 215, one of the few cross border highways in the region that are paved and open to commercial vehicles. Local officials were working to clear the accumulation of ash with bulldozers and heavy equipment while Carabineros (Chile's national uniformed police) were inspecting roads and bridges in the evacuation zone for any damage.