The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency Wednesday for at least 60 days in the Moquegua region, in the south of the country. The decision comes in response to the eruption of the Ubinas volcano, the most active volcano in the country, paired with a series of earthquakes that have hit the region.
Since Tuesday, Ubinas has been erupting a plume of smoke more than 3 miles high and has also spewed a shower of ash and noxious gases within a 6.2-mile radius. About 2,000 people were evacuated from the area by emergency services. The districts of Tarucani, Lloque, Yunga and some neighboring towns are currently affected, according to the Peruvian Geophysical Institute (IGP).
#ÚLTIMO | Hace minutos el volcán #Ubinas registró una nueva explosión con emisiones de cenizas que alcanzaron una altura máxima de 3500 metros sobre la cima del cráter, reporte que ha sido informado por el #Ingemmet al @COENPeru pic.twitter.com/snKSzkAfgP
— INGEMMET (@IngemmetPeru) July 6, 2023
According to local press reports, there has been great difficulty to breathe in the affected areas due to the ash and dust, in addition to a strong odor of burning fuel. Volcanic ash can be highly toxic, and the land covered with it is also in danger of being rendered unusable for agriculture and livestock.
The Peruvian government assured that there is an "imminent danger" in the region due to the current state of the volcano. It pointed out that the state of emergency "will allow the implementation of immediate and necessary emergency measures and actions to reduce the existing risk, as well as response and rehabilitation interventions."
El #volcan #Ubinas arroja cenizas en #Peru provocando estado de emergencia. El gobierno de Perú declaró un estado de emergencia de 60 días para varias ciudades del sur el miércoles, ya que el volcán más activo del país arroja cenizas y gas. #volcano #PeruUbinas #Moquegua pic.twitter.com/GeDxTIDIaU
— AUSTROHÚNGARO (@AUSTROHNGARO2) July 6, 2023
Authorities informed that it is likely that new districts will be evacuated in the coming hours or days, depending on how the situation progresses. "We are preparing for a possible high-risk scenario, we are already looking at the areas where they will evacuate and how we are prepared if this process becomes a little more critical, but for the moment no," said IGP President Hernando Tavera.
The last time the Ubinas volcano erupted was in 2019. Then, the volcano erupted for three months. The effects of the eruption spread over a radius of more than 155 miles. IGP experts expect this episode to be more moderate than that of 2019.