The volatile Nevado del Ruiz volcano is being closely monitored by officials in central-eastern Colombia.
The country’s minister of mines and energy, Mauricio Cardenas, warned residents in areas surrounding the volcano, near the borders of the departments of Tolima and Caldas, to implement the necessary preventative measures in case of an eruption. A May 29 earthquake sent plumes of ash billowing at heights close to 4,000 feet above the volcano’s crater. La Nubia Airport in Manizales has been shut down for a week.
The airport “remains closed because there is still the presence of ash that may affect the aircraft,” said the deputy director of Aerocivil, Colombia’s governmental aviation agency.
Recent weeks have seen an increase in ash and gas emissions, according to Cardenas.
The Red Cross has already evacuated at least 500 people from the areas of Rio Claro and Playon in the department of Antioquia, as well as settlements near the town of Villa Maria in the department of Caldas, regions both affected by the volcanic ash emissions.
The alert level for Nevado del Ruiz sits at orange, meaning an eruption is probable but not imminent.
An estimated 25,000 people were killed after Nevado del Ruiz erupted in 1985.