Chaitén, Chile

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The 1.200-meter high snowcapped Chaiten volcano in the Los Lagos Region, (lakes region) close to Puerto Montt and 1.200 kilometers south of Santiago started rumbling Thursday May 1st. The Chaiten volcano spewed lava and blasted ash 12 miles (20 kilometers) into the sky, prompting officials to order a total evacuation of the nearby area driving more than 7,000 people from their homes. Armed with a court order for people to leave an area within a 30-mile (50-kilometer) radius of the mountain, authorities forcibly removed about 130 holdouts, mostly small farmers. Many of their livestock were beginning to die from breathing air and drinking water clogged with volcanic ash. What is worse, it that the enormous slow-moving ash plume is expected to reach the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires (where about eight million people live), spreading airborne ash particles which, health officials said, could be highly dangerous to inhale.

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