There was an explosion described as “relatively strong” at the Popocatépetl volcano last night, sending a two-kilometer column of ash skyward and shooting incandescent fragments to a distance of up to 3.5 kilometers.
The fragments ignited bush fires on the volcano’s upper slopes, reported Volcano Discovery.
An overnight flight Saturday by officials aboard a helicopter found that a new lava dome that had formed in January was gone, destroyed by a recent series of explosions. The dome contained an estimated 2 million cubic meters of lava.
The National Disaster Prevention Center (Cenapred) said a new inner crater could be seen in the volcano and predicted another lava dome will soon be growing inside it.
The earthquake and volcano alert system called SkyAlert said last night’s explosion, which took place at 8:30, was the biggest in three years measured in terms of its force.
The volcano, also known as El Popo, remains under a yellow, phase 2 alert.
Civil Protection recommends that residents near the volcano remain indoors during periods of ash fall and take measures to protect themselves should they have to go outside.
Popocatépetl is one of Mexico’s most active volcanoes after it began producing powerful explosions in 1994 following a 50-year-long dormant period. The 5,426-meter volcano lies 70 kilometers southeast of Mexico City.