Mother Nature is not cooperating with efforts to reduce air pollution in Puebla: the Popocatépetl volcano erupted twice this morning, sending water vapor, ash and gases into the sky.
The National Disaster Prevention Center (Cenapred) said the first explosion occurred at 8:17am and that a second less intense one followed at 8.31.
A first plume of smoke measuring approximately 1.6 kilometers emanated from the volcano and dispersed towards the northeast while a second smaller one headed southeast.
State Civil Protection said that ash was expected to fall in several municipalities including Puebla, San Pedro Cholula, Atlixco and San Martín Texmelucan.
The eruptions occurred just over a week after the alert level for El Popo was reduced one notch to yellow Phase 2.
Cenapred warned the public to not approach the volcano and especially its crater due to the danger of falling ballistic fragments. A 12-kilometer “security radius” around Popocatépetl remains in place.
Guillermo Pacheco, interim governor of Puebla, said on Twitter that his government is monitoring activity at the volcano in coordination with federal authorities.
“Municipal authorities and the public are informed of Civil Protection protocols. Evacuation routes have been rehabilitated and drills have been carried out,” he added.
Like Mexico City, Puebla is currently suffering from high levels of air contamination caused mainly by recent wildfires in central and southern Mexico.
Pacheco said that he has directed authorities to apply “strict actions aimed at the reduction of contamination in the metropolitan area of Puebla.”
In Mexico City, air quality remains poor despite heavy rain falling in most parts of the metropolitan area last night.
The Environmental Contingency activated Tuesday is still in place for the entire Valley of Mexico due to high levels of small particulate matter and ozone.
The sprawling, heavily-populated southeastern borough of Iztapalapa was the most polluted part of the capital at 3:00pm today.
The Environmental Commission of the Megalopolis (Came) reminded residents that additional vehicle restrictions implemented yesterday remain in force between 5:00am and 10:00pm.
All schools and many universities in the Mexico City metropolitan area cancelled classes today to help reduce further contamination and health risks for children, who are considered particularly vulnerable to respiratory illnesses.
Severe contamination has lingered in the Valley of Mexico this week as fires continued to burn in and around the capital. High temperatures and a lack of wind have exacerbated the situation.
An Environmental Contingency that was declared in the 16 México state municipalities of the Valley of Toluca – located around 60 kilometers southwest of Mexico City – also remains active.
Air pollution has also affected Querétaro, leading the state Secretariat of Sustainable Development to declare an Environmental Contingency late yesterday in four municipalities: Querétaro, El Marqués, Corregidora and San Juan del Río.