Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Stranded Tourists Rescued After Horrifying Night as Chile's Llaima Volcano Erupts

In Melipeuco, hundreds fled their homes as the massive Llaima volcano erupted in ground-shaking explosions, spewing hot lava, fire, and ash. Some were able to get to emergency shelters, but many had to camp out in the open.

Although more than 150 Forest Service workers and tourists were evacuated, more than 50 people were trapped by rising floodwaters. Authorities had planned to rescue them by helicopter early today, but heavy fog grounded aircraft. Rescue teams were able to get trucks into the area.

So far, no injuries have been reported. The government says that it is ready to evacuate the entire town of about 5,000 to safer areas if the eruptions continue.

Llaima, which means "Blood Veins," is a popular mountain-climbing destination. Its taller peak is 10,253 feet (3,125 meters) high.

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