Latin America & Caribbean

Chile's Calbuco volcano covers town of Ensenada in ash

Media captionResidents in Ensenada in the foothills of Calbuco say their livelihoods have been destroyed

People living in the vicinity of the Calbuco volcano in Chile are trying to save their homes and their livestock after tonnes of ash rained down following two volcanic eruptions.

The roofs of a number of homes and businesses collapsed under the weight of the ash and residents feared for their sheep and cows.

Soldiers have been deployed to help with the clean-up.

The authorities have warned of the possibility of further eruptions.

'Grey desert'

They also said that should it rain, the ash could mix with debris to create dangerous mudflows.

The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted twice last week, forcing the evacuation of more than 6,000 people.

Chilean authorities said on Saturday that the volcano had spewed out an estimated 210 million cubic metres (7,420 million cubic feet) of ash.

Local resident Victor Hugo Toledo said the area looked like a "grey desert".

Image caption Residents who had been evacuated were allowed back to salvage some of their possessions
Image caption Farmers feared for their livestock after fields were covered in volcanic ash
Image caption Farmers tried to find alternative places for grazing but found much of the area covered in ash

"Wherever you look all you see is grey dust; there is an average of 50cm (20in) of it over the towns and on all the roofs," he told the Associated Press news agency.

The authorities allowed some of the residents evacuated from the town of Ensenada to return briefly in order to try to save some of their belongings.

Rony Alvarado found that the roof of his restaurant had collapsed under the weight of the ash.

"Eleven years of work [gone] in one day, one second," he said.

Image caption Roofs collapsed under the weight of the ash
Image caption And many businesses remained closed
Image caption Many roads are still covered in ash and it is feared that rain could turn it into a hard crust

On Saturday, the Chilean government announced it would provide aid to cover huge financial losses incurred by local farmers and to help evacuate thousands of farm animals.

The second eruption on Thursday created a cloud of ash that rose 20km (12 miles) into the air.

Image caption Ash and smoke continued to spew from the Calbuco after the two eruptions last week

Calbuco is one of around 90 active volcanoes in Chile.

The country has been hit by a series of natural disasters in recent months including flooding in the usually arid north and wildfires in its southern forests.

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