Guatemala on alert as volcano spews ash over vast area

Guatemala's Fuego volcano, seen from San Juan Alotenango municipality, erupts on November 10, 2015 (AFP Photo/Johan Ordonez)

Guatemala City (AFP) - Guatemalan authorities issued a warning Wednesday as the country's Fuego volcano, located near the capital, spewed ash into the air.

A spokesman for the country's disaster response agency, David de Leon, said the 3,763-meter (12,346-foot) high volcano had entered a new eruptive phase with increasing explosive activity, prompting an orange alert indicating danger.

The volcano sent ash plumes billowing more than 2,000 meters above the crater; they then spread as far as 40 kilometers to the west, southwest and north, the spokesman said.

He added that rural communities surrounding the volcano, as well as the urban municipalities of San Pedro Yepocapa and Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa de Escuintla, reported fine ash particles falling from the sky.

De Leon said his agency was in touch with local authorities and that so far no evacuations had been deemed necessary.

The Fuego volcano is located some 45 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of the capital Guatemala City.

Guatemala's Vulcanology Institute has instructed civil protection authorities to step up their vigilance and recommended precautionary measures for air traffic.

The Fuego volcano has long been active. A powerful eruption in February 2015 prompted an alert and the closure of Guatemala City's airport.

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