A frame from video footage taken at the volcano El Popo, looking down at the crater. A frame from video footage taken at the volcano El Popo, looking down at the crater.

Authorities issue warning after youths scale volcano’s summit

Experts say they were lucky to survive the climb to the peak of El Popo

Authorities issued a warning after at least three youths climbed to the top of central Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano, which has seen constant activity in recent months, emitting red-hot rock, ash and gases.

The group of young people recorded and shared a video of their March 12 expedition on social media, showing them at the summit of the volcano, which can be seen releasing gas.

Federal Civil Protection director David Eduardo León Romero said in an interview that his agency had identified the intrepid youths thanks to social media and would get in touch with them to stress the gravity of their actions.

He added that their behavior was “irresponsible and thoughtless” not only for risking their personal safety but that that of authorities who would have been duty-bound to attempt a rescue had the group run into trouble.

El Popo, as it is also known, is one of the most active volcanos in the world and began seeing increased activity in December last year. The volcano is monitored 24/7 by the National Center for Prevention of Disasters (Cenapred), and Civil Protection has issued an official warning to residents to maintain a distance of at least 12 kilometers from the base of the volcano.

Experts agree that the group of young explorers was fortunate not to have lost their lives. Though only light activity consisting of short emissions of gas, vapor and ash were registered on the day of the climb, three days later authorities reported that the newest dome to form within the crater had been blown apart by volcanic explosions on March 13 and 14.

Volcanic risks subdirector Ramón Espinasa Pereña warned that after the volcano resumed its eruptive phase in 1994, getting too close has become dangerous due to the continuous explosions that shoot rock fragments with temperatures exceeding 1000 C.

According to Cenapred, five people were killed on April 30, 1996 while exploring the slopes of tghe volcano while it was in one of its eruptive stages.

Civil Protection’s León Romero stressed that while the current volcanic activity is not an emergency situation, it is important to follow official recommendations regarding approaching the volcano.

Source: Milenio (sp), Notimex (sp)

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