Colombian authorities announced Tuesday the evacuation of almost 8,000 people who live on the slopes of the Galeras volcano in the southern department of Nariño, after the Colombian Institute of Mining and Geology (Ingeominas) issued a code orange alert level for the volcano.
“Orange means that an eruption is probable in days or weeks,” said Colombia’s Minister for the Interior German Vargas Lleras.
He called on locals who could be affected by lava flows to “urgently” move to temporary lodging provided by the state in the municipalities of Pasto, La Florida, and Nariño.
Vargas Lleras said that authorities “have all necessities ready so that the inhabitants move immediately to the available housing, where they will receive the fundamentals: roof, food and health services.”
Ingeominas raised the alert to orange after a tremor measuring 4.6 on the Richter scale was registered close to Galeras’ summit, as well as almost 400 tremors of varying intensity.
Galeras last erupted in January. The eruption did not cause any deaths or injuries, but lava flows running down the sides of the volcano caused forest fires.
In 2009, the volcano, considered the most active in Colombia, erupted three times.