Mountain climbers who scaled the Popocatépetl volcano have been called “imprudent” by the chief of the national Civil Protection agency.
A video circulating on social media shows a group of at least five climbers ascending the side of the volcano’s crater, wearing face masks, goggles and helmets, as the volcano emits plumes of smoke.
Civil Protection director David León Romero criticized the climbers, who numbered as many as a dozen, warning that they not only risked their own lives but those of emergency workers.
“Climbing an active volcano shouldn’t be seen as an athletic achievement for mountain climbers, but as an imprudent action,” he said. “The people who do it are not only risking their lives, but also the lives of rescue workers who would need to go help them, and the human and material resources of the Mexican state.”
Climbers are not allowed inside a 12-kilometer restricted zone around the crater.
Located in central Mexico and straddling the borders of the states of México, Puebla and Morelos, Popocatépetl has been active since 1994, and large fragments of molten rock are often ejected several kilometers from the crater.
The video of the climbers was uploaded to Twitter by the volunteer urban search and rescue organization, GORDAS-USAR.
A lawyer for the group defended the climbers and said they had good reason for approaching the crater.
“The people who went to the crater did it to take scientific measurements of altitude, temperature, the velocity of the volcano and other things,” Honorio Hernández said. “Another reason was to accompany members of the community of Santiago Xaliztintla, Puebla, who leave an offering to the volcano every year.”
There have been three other reports of climbers on the summit of the volcano while it was active. Experts said youths who climbed to the top in March were lucky to have survived.