Chile allows return of citizens to Puyehue Volcano region

Updated: 2011-06-20 11:09
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SANTIAGO - The Chilean government Sunday allowed the return of over 4,000 citizens who had to evacuate from their homes two weeks ago following the eruption of the Puyehue Volcano in southern Chile.

The government said it made the decision after studying reports submitted by Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter and Minister of Energy and Mining Laurence Golborne which showed the volcanic activity had eased.

The Puyehue erupted on June 4 for the first time since 1960 and caused the evacuation of 4,270 people living in its vicinity.

Although the evacuees were allowed to return, the border pass between Chile and Argentina at Cardenal Samore would remain closed for the time being as large areas of the road were still covered by volcanic materials, Hinzpeter said.

Meanwhile, Vicente Nunez, director of the Interior Ministry's National Office for Emergencies, said his staff would continue to monitor the Puyehue volcano closely and evaluate its safety conditions if the volcanic activity levels change.

In the past two weeks, Puyehue's eruption caused much chaos at airports in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay as thousands of flights were canceled for safety reasons because of the heavy presence of volcanic ashes in the sky.