Page last updated at 04:38 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

Colombia volcano claims 10 lives


The aftermath of the volcano's eruption

At least 10 people died after a volcano erupted in a remote region of southern Colombia, the government has confirmed.

Interior minister Fabio Valencia said the eruption of Nevado del Huila triggered two avalanches on Thursday.

About 12,000 people living in the area, some 240km (150 miles) south of Bogota, have been evacuated.

Mr Valencia said rescuers had not been able to reach the less accessible parts of Nevado del Huila, and the number of casualties could rise.

President Alvaro Uribe flew with emergency officials over the volcano to see the results of the eruption for himself.

He met civil defence officials and ordered the air force to supply isolated communities along the Paez River.

People missing

Officials have reported seven people still missing.

At 5,364m (17,700ft), Nevado del Huila is among the highest peaks in the Andean Central Cordillera, a region that is home to mainly indigenous communities.


A combination of heavy rains and the high altitude is making it difficult for rescue services, including helicopters, to reach the area.

Some roads have been blocked by snow and ice, bridges have been destroyed and there have been mudslides on the lower slopes.

The volcano became active again in 2007 after lying dormant for more than 500 years.

It last erupted on 14 April, forcing about 3,500 people to flee their homes.

In 1985 an eruption of the nearby Nevado del Ruiz volcano triggered mudslides that killed 25,000 people in Colombia's worst ever natural disaster.

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