Authorities declared a state of emergency as the plume, resembling the mushroom cloud produced by an atomic bomb, lifted into the air.
Some regional airlines were reported yesterday to have cancelled flights and other airlines were waiting to guage the severity of any potential disruption.
LATAM Airlines said the presence of atmospheric volcanic ash led it to cancel flights to and from neighbouring Puerto Montt, the area’s largest city, as a precaution.
Everyone living within a 20-kilometre radius of the volcano, Mt Calbuco, was being evacuated yesterday afternoon.
Chile has about 90 active volcanoes, of which Mt Calbuco is considered one of the most dangerous. It last erupted in 1972.
Chile’s Interior ministry moved in troops to temporarily take control of the province of Llanquihue and the town of Puerto Octay, local papers reported.
Mt Calbuco lies near the cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt, slightly more than 1000 kilometres south of Chile’s capital, Santiago.
While the area is away from main air routes, volcanic dust from South American eruptions has caused problems in the past.
The volcanic ash cloud produced by Chile’s Mt Puyehue volcanic eruption in 2011 circumnavigated the globe and floated over Australia twice, disrupting flights and leaving over 120,000 passengers stranded.
Needless to say, airlines are monitoring the current Chilean situation closely.
Written by : Peter Needham