Chile volcano belches more smoke after twin eruptions

Updated 25 April 2015

Chile volcano belches more smoke after twin eruptions

LA ENSENADA: A large column of smoke streamed from Chile’s Calbuco volcano Friday, prompting new warnings that it could erupt again after unexpectedly roaring back to life and forcing thousands to evacuate.
As thick plumes of pale gray smoke began to billow again from the volcano’s crater, the National Geology and Mines Service issued new warnings that a third eruption could follow the spectacular bursts of ash and lava that sent southern Chile into panic late Wednesday and early Thursday.
Authorities ordered the preventive evacuation of some 2,000 people from three more towns at risk of flooding from snow and ice melting high in the mountains due to the volcano’s heat, bringing the total number of evacuees to around 6,500.
Additionally, about 300 farmers were affected by the eruption and authorities on Saturday planned to evacuate about 4,000 sheep and cattle.
The ash cloud meanwhile continued to drift, disrupting flights across a large swath of South America, including planes from Paris, Sydney and Dallas that were forced to either turn back or land elsewhere.
In Buenos Aires, on the other side of the continent, American Airlines, United, Delta and Air France all canceled flights to and from Europe and the United States.
Chilean authorities have declared a state of emergency, sent in the army and evacuated a 20-kilometer (12-mile) radius around Calbuco, which is located in Los Lagos, a region popular with tourists for its beautiful mountain landscapes dotted with volcanoes and lakes with black-sand beaches.
As some residents dug themselves out from beneath the thick layer of ash that blanketed the area, others who were evacuated from their homes gathered at the police barricade outside the town of La Ensenada, anxious to check on their houses and feed their pets.
On the other side of the security perimeter, the evacuation area was turned into a scattering of ghost towns blanketed with ash up to one meter (three feet) thick, an AFP photographer said.
In La Ensenada, a town of 1,500 people that was the first to be evacuated, workers used heavy trucks to plow the roads clear as a handful of residents ignored the evacuation order to shovel the ash and debris off their rooftops.


The weight of the ash caused some roofs to collapse.
Authorities said that if the current conditions held, residents would be allowed to return home for a few hours in the afternoon to retrieve some belongings, after fleeing with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Ash particles spread over southern Uruguay and a broad belt across central Argentina, though the national weather service said they were at high altitude and did not impair visibility.
Experts cautioned that a third eruption could still follow.
“We’re still in what is considered the crisis phase,” said Rodrigo Alvarez, head of the National Geology and Mines Service.
“It’s very difficult to say how explosive future eruptions will be, but we expect more activity similar to what happened” Wednesday and Thursday, said Carlos Cardona, a volcano expert at the service.
President Michelle Bachelet, who flew to the affected area Thursday, warned the situation remained “unpredictable.”
There have been no reports of injuries so far, but officials said the ash could be harmful for people, animals, crops and infrastructure.
Authorities handed out protective masks in affected towns in both Chile and Argentina.


Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

Updated 55 min 21 sec ago

Russia aims to produce ‘millions’ of virus doses by 2021

  • The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago
  • Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience

MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it aims to launch mass production of a coronavirus vaccine next month and turn out “several million” doses per month by next year.
The country is pushing ahead with several vaccine prototypes and one prepared at the Gamaleya institute in Moscow has reached advanced stages of development.
“We are very much counting on starting mass production in September,” industry minister Denis Manturov said in an interview published by TASS news agency.
“We will be able to ensure production volumes of several hundred thousand a month, with an eventual increase to several million by the start of next year,” he said, adding that one developer is preparing production technology at three locations in central Russia.
Health Minister Mikhail Murashko on Saturday said the Gamaleya vaccine had “completed clinical trials” and that documents were being prepared to register it with the state.
Another vaccine, developed by Siberia-based Vektor lab, is currently undergoing clinical trials and two more will begin human testing within the next two months, Murashko said.
Gamaleya’s vaccine is a so-called viral vector vaccine, meaning it employs another virus to carry the DNA encoding of the needed immune response into cells.
Gamaleya’s vaccine employs the adenovirus, a similar technology to the coronavirus vaccine prototype developed by China’s CanSino, currently in the advanced stage of clinical trials.
The Gamaleya institute came under fire after researchers and directors injected themselves with the prototype months ago, with specialists criticizing the move as an unorthodox and rushed way of starting human trials.
Scientists have told AFP that Russia will struggle to adapt the vaccine to mass production because the country lacks raw materials, adequate facilities and experience, particularly with advanced technology like viral vector.
Some Russian officials have boasted that the country will be the first to come up with the vaccine, even comparing it to the space race to produce the first satellite in the Soviet era.
Moscow has dismissed allegations from the UK, the United States and Canada that a hacking group linked to Russian intelligence services tried to steal information about a coronavirus vaccine from labs in the West.
Russia’s coronavirus caseload is currently fourth in the world after the United States, Brazil and India.