Monday, June 6, 2011

When all hell breaks loose: Lightning tears the sky apart above the glow of the Chilean volcano - 6th June 2011


Flames reach up to the heavens as lightning flashes criss-cross the sky.

These extraordinary images show the full force of Mother Nature as a Chilean volcano erupts for the first time in 50 years.

Ash has been thrown six miles up into the sky and the South American government has ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Winds fanned the ash toward neighbouring Argentina, darkening the sky in the ski resort city of San Carlos de Bariloche, in the centre of the country, and its airport has also been closed.

The eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, about 575 miles south of the capital, Santiago, also prompted authorities to close a busy border crossing into Argentina.

It was not immediately clear which of the chain's four volcanoes had erupted because of ash cover and weather conditions. The chain last saw a major eruption in 1960.

Local media said the smell of sulphur hung in the air and there was constant seismic activity.

'The Cordon Caulle (volcanic range) has entered an eruptive process, with an explosion resulting in a 10-kilometre-high gas column,' the state emergency office ONEMI said.

As a precaution, the government said it was evacuating 3,500 people from the surrounding area.

This development is the latest volcanic activity to affect the country. Three years ago, Chile's Chaiten volcano erupted spectacularly for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere and was visible from space.

It also drifted over neighbouring Argentina, coating towns. Chile's Llaima volcano, one of South America's most active, also erupted that year and again in 2009. Read More