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| 2/20/2009 12:00:00 AM

Colombia Evacuates Volcano Area

Feb 20 -- The Colombian government on Sunday recommended the precautionary evacuation of several thousand people who live in the greatly threatened area around the Galeras volcano, which on Saturday erupted explosively, although no damage to life or property was reported.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 people live in the area in southwestern Colombia at greatest risk, a region including a number of rural settlements near Pasto, the capital of Nariño province, which borders on Ecuador, as well as the nearby towns of Florida and Nariño.

Despite that, the government's evacuation call was ignored by the communities at greatest risk, as admitted by local emergency prevention and management committees, which are the entities responsible for ordering such population moves to preestablished shelters.

The recommendation to go to the shelters "applies only to the people who reside in the high-threat zone," said the director of the Pasto volcano and seismological observatory, Diego Gomez, who noted that such were the established protocols for emergencies of this kind.
 
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