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Page last updated at 22:48 GMT, Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Chile volcano forces evacuations

Llaima volcano eruption
Llaima spewed out a column of smoke, ash and lava

Rescue workers in southern Chile have evacuated a further 54 tourists and staff after the eruption of a volcano.

Hundreds of residents and tourists have fled the area since Tuesday, when the Llaima volcano began producing a huge column of smoke and spewing lava.

Airport officials in neighbouring Argentina have suspended flights due to poor visibility caused by the ash.

Llaima last had a major eruption in 1994 and is said to be one of the country's most active volcanoes.

It is situated in the Conguillio National Park, about 650 km (400 miles) south of the capital, Santiago.

Further eruptions

Those rescued on Wednesday had been stranded overnight after a swollen river cut off road access.

Map

"Army personnel evacuated 43 people this morning who remained in the Conguillio National Park. Another 11 people, park personnel and their family members, were also evacuated," Chile's National Emergency Office said.

There are fears of further eruptions.

"At this moment I would recommend against tourism in the area," said Carmen Fernandez, the emergency agency's director.

The volcano erupted on Tuesday at 1800 (2100 GMT), sending a column of smoke approximately 3,000m (9,800ft) into the air, as lava flowed down the 3,125m east slope.



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