A Costa Rican volcano eruption has caused some communities to evacuate. The Turrialba volcano, located some 30 miles east of the Costa Rican capital, San Jose, spewed ash over an area covering four provinces. According to the National Seismological Network, the eruption is the volcano’s largest in 150 years.
The Civil Aviation Administration issued a warning that airplanes should avoid a 32-kilometer radius around the volcano. The country’s main international airport is not within the affected area. Civil Aviation Director Álvaro Vargas noted that additional actions may be taken.
Inside Costa Rica reports that residents first head “booming sounds” 40 minutes before the eruption. Red Cross officials arrived to the area early Thursday morning, distributing masks to residents.
According to the Tico Times, ash covered roofs, gardens, roads, and cars. The canton of Turrialba, provinces of Heredia and Alajuel, and communities northwest of San Jose, including Moravia, Coronado and Tibas.
“We saw fiery explosions. We must confirm whether it was lava or burning material that fell so spectacularly,” Raul Mora, a volcano expert with the National Seismological Network, told local television, adding the volcano was highly active. The last time Turrialba spewed lava was around 1863, Mora said. As of Thursday morning, the volcanic activity remained constant.
Turrialba Volcano National Park is closed to visitors until further notice. Much of the area around the volcano is uninhabited due to prior volcanic activity in 2010.
As of Thursday afternoon, no injuries or deaths have been reported.
Costa Rica is home to numerous volcanos, both active and dormant. Eruptions have also been recorded from the Arenal, Poas, and Rincon de la Vieja volcanos in the past couple of years. In 1963, the Irazu volcano erupted on the same day as a visit from U.S. President John F. Kennedy, spewing ash on the capital of San Jose and surrounding area.