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Argentina: Puyehue Volcano Ash Unstoppable in Argentine Territory

On June 4, 2011, the Puyehue volcano in Chile began erupting, spewing huge ash clouds that affected a considerable part of the zone. But that day was not the end of this story.

The eruption has affected a considerable part of the mountain region in Argentina and it will probably become one of the greatest natural disasters that the country has gone through in recent years.

Bariloche and Villa La Angostura, two major common tourist destinations during winter vacations, were also affected by this volcano eruption.

Cancelled flights in Buenos Aires by Patricio Murphy. Image by Patricio Murphy, copyright Demotix (13/06/11).

Cancelled flights in Buenos Aires by Patricio Murphy. Image by Patricio Murphy, copyright Demotix (13/06/11).

In the blog 101lugaresincreibles [es], Matias Callone described what happened:

La erupción del volcán Puyehue desde hace más de una semana en el sur de Chile, tiene a maltraer a los habitantes y turistas del entorno a ambos lados de la frontera. Por los efectos del viento, las cenizas del volcán, que hoy mismo se elevan como una columna de 7,5 kilómetros, continúan cayendo  con intervalos en el área de la paradisíaca Región de los Lagos, en Argentina. BarilocheVilla TrafulVilla la Angostura son algunas de las localidades más afectadas.

The eruption of the Puyehue volcano more than a week ago in the South of Chile, has affected inhabitants and tourists in both borders. Due to the wind, the volcano’s ash, which is up in the atmosphere forming a 7,5 kilometers-column-like cloud, is still falling down periodically in the Los Lagos Region in Argentina. Bariloche, Vila Traful and Villa Angostura are three of the most affected areas.

Nevertheless, the problem does not only have an impact on those regions, since ash that is in the atmosphere has traveled due to the wind, resulting in cancelled flights every day in international airports, not just in Argentina, but in other countries.

On June 8, blogger Fabio Baccaglioni shared [es] a link [es] with photos that he took in Bariloche –all under a Creative Commons license. On June 16, Daniel Barrios Laumenière uploaded more photographs to Fabio’s blog [es]. He explained:

Fallen ash. Photo by Fabio Baccaglioni (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5)

Fallen ash. Photo by Fabio Baccaglioni (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5)

Después de la primer arena que cayó tuvimos unos días de calma y después una tormenta de lluvia que aplacó la arena y convirtió todo en una gran masa húmeda. En la última semana ha caído una ceniza más fina en tres oportunidades, lo que en sí resultó más molesto que la primer arena porque no se asienta nunca. Por fortuna cada dos por tres llueve algo y aplaca y lava esta ceniza fina permitiendo seguir trabajando en la limpieza de calles, techos, autos, etc.

After the first volcanic sand was spewed, we had quiet days and after that a rainstorm abated the sand, making it a great humid mass. Last week, a thinner ash has been spilled out three times which is more bothersome than the first sand because it can never be abated. Luckily, it rains every three or four days, cleaning this ash and allowing people to clean the streets, their roofs, cars, etc.

Daniel, who lives in Bariloche, has been following the eruption in his Danbat [es] blog, posting photographs and up-to-date information every day since June 4 [es].

The site Cadena3 [es] informs about an interview with Government Secretary Ariel Domingo regarding the situation in Villa La Angostura:

“La situación es compleja, teniendo en cuenta que tenemos acumulada 30 centímetros de cenizas. Está prevista para hoy la actividad del volcán, por eso esperamos la llegada de más cenizas y chaparrones”, aseguró a Cadena 3 el secretario de gobierno, Ariel Domínguez.

En otro sentido, el funcionario afirmó que las clases continúan afectadas, aunque aclaró que no hay inconvenientes por ahora con el agua potable.

“It is a complicated situation if we take into consideration that we have 30 centimeters of ash accumulated. It is announced that the volcano is going to erupt today, therefore, we expect more ash and rain” asserted the Secretary of the Government, Ariel Rodriguez, to Cadena3.

In addition to that, he affirmed that school is still suspended, but he did not clarify the current problems with drinkable water.

The article continues:

Si bien un importante sector de la población permanecía sin energía eléctrica desde hace varios días, la lluvia y la ceniza caída este martes, descripto como el peor día desde que comenzó la emergencia, hicieron que salieran de servicio las tres fuentes que alimentan la villa turística.

A considerable part of the population is still without electricity, rain and ash were spilled out this Tuesday, which is described as the worst day since this emergency started, and it made useless some other vital sources that benefit the touristic region.

On Twitter, the @visitingarg account informs:

Se sigue trabajando para minimizar el impacto en distintas áreas, se continua la limpieza. #LaAngostura sufre la peor parte

The work to reduce the impact in different regions still continues, cleaning still continues. #LaAngostura is the most affected of all.

Nahuel G. Abregú confirms the tough situation that Villa La Angostura is going through with this tweet:

recién recibí info de gente que está llevando alimentos a #LaAngostura y por el estado de las rutas no puede entrar, #Puyehue #Cenizas

I have just received the information from the people taking food to  #LaAngostura and, because of the current situation of the roads, they cannot get there, #Puyehue#Cenizas

A rumors started circulating about the possible suspension of the highly anticipated ‘Copa América‘ scheduled to start on June 1, because several flights had been cancelled. However, the Argentine Football Association [es] denied this by issuing a press release:

Ante consultas periodísticas respecto de la realización, desarrollo y calendario sobre la Copa América “Argentina 2011”, el Comité Organizador cumple en informar que dicho evento se realizará tal como estaba programado, entre los días 1 y 24 de julio de 2011, con los horarios y sedes establecidos según resultara del sorteo realizado en diciembre de 2010.

Las circunstancias naturales que ocurren no son motivo para ninguna modificación a lo claramente informado.

To answer journalists’ questions regarding the development and calendar of the Copa America “Argentina 2011”, the Organizing Committee informs that this event will take place as it was scheduled, from July 1 to July 24, 2011, with the schedules and stadiums that were already agreed according to the previous draw in December 2010.

The facts regarding the natural disaster are not a reason to change what was clearly informed.

Photo by Sebastián Criado (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Photo by Sebastián Criado (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

President Cristina Fernandez [es], informed about the creation of a monitoring group through her Twitter account @CFKArgentina. She also expressed her support for the affected regions:

Como patagónica, saben que siempre voy a estar allí, siempre

Queremos llevar tranquilidad a todas las zonas afectadas, que estamos trabajando fuertemente, y midiendo las cosas que sean necesarias

Creamos un grupo de seguimiento de la situación en la región afectada por las cenizas del Volcán Puyehue.

As someone from The Patagonia, you know that I’ll always be there, always.

We want to bring peace and calm to all of those areas, we are working hard, and gathering information about the needs at this time.

We created a monitoring group for the region affected by the ash of the Puyehue Volcano.

Last June 15, the Minister of Agriculture Fishery and Food [es] declared a state of emergency through different resolutions that were published in the Official Bulletin for the regions in La Patagonia, Argentina.

Recent images are worth a thousand words.

Image by Daninofal (CC BY 2.0)

Image by Daninofal (CC BY 2.0)

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