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Popocatepetl Volcano Near Mexico City Fills Sky With Smoke, Ash

Image: Popocatepetl Volcano Near Mexico City Fills Sky With Smoke, Ash

By Michael Mullins   |   Friday, 12 Jul 2013 11:10 AM

The Popocatepetl volcano, one of Mexico's most active, has been releasing clouds of smoke and ash into the sky, just east of Mexico City.

As a result of the volcano's activity, Mexico has raised the alert level to yellow – the third-highest caution, BBC reported.

Such activity could potentially lead to explosions that could send hot volcanic rock fragments flying through the air over great distances.

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Meaning "smoking mountain" in the Nahuatl Indian language, Popocatepetl is located approximately 50 miles southeast of Mexico City, where nearly nine million people reside.

An additional 50,000 people also live in the 24 towns that surround the Popocatepetl volcano, the BBC reported.

As a result of the ash release, 47 flights into and out of the Mexico City and Toluca airports were cancelled, The Associated Press reported.

Following the cancellations, Mexico City airport spokesman Jorge Gomez said the airport continued to operate normally later after no ash had reached the area from the 17,886-foot volcano.

As a result of volcano's recent activity, federal civil protection authorities have created a safety radius of 7 miles around the Popocatepetl volcano preventing anyone from entering the area.

Authorities have also blocked all transit routes between surrounding mountains, the AP reported.

Prior to 1994, when the volcano's ash was carried as far as 16 miles by prevailing winds, the Popocatepetl volcano had remained dormant for nearly 50 years, according to VolcanoDiscovery.com.

Since then, the massive volcano has sporadically produced "powerful explosions at irregular intervals," VolcanoDiscovery.com reports.

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Since the Spanish arrival in the early 1500s, The Popocatepetl volcano has at least 15 major eruptions, the last one having occurred in 1947.

Prior to the recent activity in the 1990s, the Popocatepetl volcano had been one of three tall peaks in Mexico that contained glaciers.

Related stories:

Popocatepetl Volcano Spews Ash, Scares Residents Near Mexico City

Second Alaska Volcano Belching Ash and Steam

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