Colombia’s Institute of Mining and Geology (Ingeominas) on Wednesday night lowered the alert on the Galeras volcano in the south-western department of Nariño from red to orange.
Ingeominas director Mario Ballesteros said the warning had been reduced because the volcano’s activity had stabilized, but stressed that local residents should remain on alert. An orange alert means an eruption is expected in days or weeks.
The Colombian air force “was able to fly over [the volcano] and in the middle of the cloudiness observed gases and ashes exiting numerous sectors of the active cone,” Ballesteros said.
On Wednesday afternoon only some 300 of the region’s 8,000 residents had evacuated the area surrounding the volcano, despite calls from the government to do so.
Ingeominas issued a red alert warning Wednesday morning after an non-explosive eruption took place around 4AM Wednesday, which they expected to be followed by a second eruption.
Galeras last erupted in January. The event did not cause any deaths or injuries, but lava flows running down the sides of the volcano caused forest fires. The 4,276 meter volcano has been active for twenty years.