Sunday, November 09, 2008

Chaiten Volcano, Chile - John Seach

Lahars from Chaiten volcano, have created more damage in Chaiten town. On the night of 4th November, a mixture of material ejected from the volcano, combined with heavy rainfall, and melting snow, cause a lahar which raced down río Blanco and flooded 30 houses in the town. The latest lahar reinforces the decision to keep Chaiten town evacuated. In recent weeks, about a hundred people have returned to Chaitén and are living in their homes despite lacking such basic services such as electricity, potable water, gas or telephone. In the coming weeks a report will be delivered to the president, Michelle Bachelet, which discusses the level of toxicity of volcanic ash and the possibility of rebuilding the town in the same location. The situation at Chaitén has cost the Chilean State, in six months, more than 23,000 million pesos (about $ 40 million US). According to a survey which covered a sample of 800 displaced families, 45 percent do not intend to return to Chaitén, another 43 percent had not made a decision, and only 12 per cent are ready to return. 40 percent of people evacuated from Chaiten reported difficulties in their new living situation. Recent activity of Chaiten volcano has been intermittent, with an eruptive column of about 3000 meters high in recent days, while last week a swarm of small earthquakes was measured. This indicates the eruption is not yet over, and residents will have to remain evacuated for some time yet. Some people in surrounding areas have begun to sell their properties and leave the area, because ash has killed animals, caused deforestation and damaged pastures.
More on Chaitén Volcano...