The sensors vital to the warning system for the central Colombian Nevado del Ruiz volcano have been stolen, said authorities on Monday
The stolen equipment is part of a system to measure activity from the volcano and provide and early alert to the 16 communities in its range.
The theft could pose a serious risk to the communities as authorities and experts worry that the volcano, which erupted in 2012, is likely to erupt again.
Local aid organizations have denounced the theft, noting that it handicaps their ability to protect the local populace in the event of another eruption.
Without the equipment in place, experts are less able to notify local communities in case of an emergency.
Experts are meeting this week with local authorities to discuss concerns over the volcano’s recent activity. The volcano’s increased activity over the last few weeks. Increased seismic activity as well as ash and gas emissions in the past month have raised concerns, especially in light of the recent earthquake in the area.
The stolen equipment is just part of their concern. Rains from the current rainy season have made many of the evacuation routes unreliable or even dangerous.
Though no major events have occurred since its eruption in 2012, the volcano remains under close observation and the communities within its area of effect remain on alert.
At 17,457 feet tall, the Nevado del Ruiz is one of Colombia’s most hulking volcanoes, with an eruptive history stretching back 1.8 billion years. The volcano is characterized by pyroclastic flows that cause mudslides, or lahars.