Popocatepetl erupted in a furious fashion first at 8.17AM local time, then again just 14 minutes later on May 16. A video shows the ash being shot into the air as the volcano erupts violently. The huge volcano, which is the second largest in all of North America, sent ash and smoke a staggering 1.6 kilometres into to air, prompting officials to warn of decreased air quality.
El Popo, as it is colloquially known, sent ash so far that it is expected to disperse over Mexico City, which is some 70 kilometres west of the volcano.
However, it is the city of Puebla, to the east of El Popo, which officials are most concerned about in terms of air pollution, with Guillermo Pacheco, interim governor of Puebla, saying he has directed authorities to apply “strict actions aimed at the reduction of contamination in the metropolitan area of Puebla”.
Mr Pacheco added that authorities are also continuing to monitor the situation, and are prepared to evacuate the city.
He wrote on Twitter: “Municipal authorities and the public are informed of Civil Protection protocols. Evacuation routes have been rehabilitated and drills have been carried out.”
While it is unclear why it suddenly erupted, the common hypothesis is that gas-rich magma suddenly degassed, causing it to suddenly bubble to the surface and explode, much like a Champagne bottle.
If that does prove to be true, then the volcano could continue to be active for weeks to come.
At 5,426 metres tall, Popo, which is some 70 kilometres away from the capital Mexico City, is the second largest volcano in North America, but experts say that it does not pose a huge threat to locals due to its usually dormant nature.
In 2017, Popo erupted for the first time since 2000 when ash was propelled a staggering three kilometres into the sky. Since then, there have been several eruptions.
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