Exploding volcano clears out region

A volcano in southern Chile spewed lava and blasted ash more than 12 miles into the sky today, prompting a total evacuation of the provincial capital and other settlements.

President Michelle Bachelet interrupted a speech to announce “the volcano is exploding so a total evacuation of the town of Chaiten has been ordered.”

Rains following the eruption have carpeted surrounding areas in ash and mud. Chaiten, a small provincial capital of wooden houses and cobblestone streets just six miles from the volcano, is among the hardest hit.

More than 4,000 people had fled earlier and the few remaining residents were being transferred to two navy ships.

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