Red alert over Chilean volcano as she gets ready to blow with awesome ash dischargeArea near Copahue volcano put on red alert following seismic activity
Volcano started spewing ash and gas on SaturdayAn ash cloud nearly a mile high has billowed from the volcano
17:35 GMT, 24 December 2012
A region of Chile has been put on red alert after a volcano on the Argentinian border started spewing ash and gas.
Seismic activity at the Copahue volcano grew over the weekend until Chile's emergency office ONEMI issued the highest alert yesterday in the Biobio region when an ash cloud billowed almost a mile high.
The volcano, which sits in the Andes cordillera, straddling the border with Argentina's Neuquen province, started spewing ash and gas on Saturday.
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Danger: Chile has issued a red alert after the Copahue volcano started spewing ash and gas over the weekend
Fears: An ash cloud nearly a mile high has billowed from the volcano since it started showing signs of life
Eruption: The volcano started spewing ash and gas on Saturday as seismic activity increased
Officials issued a yellow and orange alert at first, but the emergency office raised it following the seismic activity on Saturday night.
Since then Chile has said activity is dropping but officials are maintaining a red alert as a precaution.
Mining Minister Hernan de Solminihac said activity at the volcano dropped to normal to low earlier today and the ash plume has descended to about 660 feet.
That's a sign internal pressure has decreased inside the volcano.
Gilda Grandon, of ONEMI's Biobio unit, said:'Authorities have overflown the volcano area and the alert is still red.
'We have noted some drop in the ash plume but the alert level is maintained because a full eruption is not ruled out.'
View from afar: Local residents watch a column of smoke and ash rise from the volcano
Concerns: The ash plume has descended to about 660ft today, but officials have not ruled out the possibility of a full eruption
Emergency: A member of the police delivers water to a local, as the volcano spews ashes nearby in Caviahue, Argentina
The Mining Ministry's Sernageomin geology unit has recommended careful observation of a nine-mile radius around the active crater in case of mudflows of volcanic fragments. Officials say there is no need yet to evacuate.
The 9,833ft Copahue erupted in 1991. The volcano became highly active with blasts and gases in 2001 in its worst activity in more than 20 years.
A volcano in the Caulle Cordon of southern Chile erupted violently last year, forcing the cancellation of hundreds of flights and the evacuation of more than 3,500 people.
Power of nature: A family watches from safety as the ash cloud billows out of the volcano
Red sky at night: Smoke and ash rises from the volcano, leading the area to be put on the highest alert
History: The volcano has erupted before in 1991 and became highly active again in 2001
VIDEO: Ash spews from Chilean Volcano
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