Santiago, March 4: Over 3,500 people were evacuated after Mount Villarica, one of South America's most active volcanoes located in Chile, erupted early Tuesday. The eruption occurred around 3 am local time and the National Emergency Office of the country issued a red alert and ordered evacuations.
Local media images showed the volcano bursting at the top and glowing in the dark. Heavy snow and rivers of lava could also be seen.
Mount Villarrica is a 9,000 foot high volcano located 670 kilometres south of Santiago, the capital and is near the small city of Pukon, which has a population of 22,000 people.
Chile's Interior and Security Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said numerous rivers in the area started to swell as snow along the volcanic mountain began to melt. Villarrica is covered by snow over an area of 40 square kilometres. The authorities were monitoring the condition of the nearby communities that could be threatened by mudslides as the snow melts.
The area around Villarrica is known as a tourist hotspot. Activities like kayaking, horseback riding, hiking and fishing take place around the volcano. Several tourists were also evacuated during the eruption.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is set to travel to the volcano-hit area to check the safety preparations.
The last time Villarrica had seen an eruption was in 1984.