LIMA, Peru, Apr 19 (Reuters) Officials urged a small farming town in southern Peru to evacuate after a volcano sent smoke and ash 2,600 feet into the air, but residents were reluctant to leave.
''A yellow alert has been called, which means precaution due to emission of gases and steam,'' Armando Minaya, head of the geophysical institute in the southern city of Arequipa, told Reuters.
''Civil Defense has sent small anti-gas masks to the town of Querapi and covers for their water deposits,'' Minaya said. The volcano has not been this active since 1969.
Civil Defense asked the 42 farming families in Querapi, three miles from the 5,672 meter-high volcano, to evacuate. But they did not want to leave, Minaya said yesterday.
The volcano, in the Moquegua region 550 miles south of Lima, has been belching for much of the month. It has sent ash and sulfur as far away as the town of Ubinas, home to 3,500 people five miles away. Small tremors have also been felt in nearby towns.
Minaya said emissions had affected crops and water sources.
He said geologists have traveled to the area to measure volcanic activity.
REUTERS PG PM0428