Millions Told to Prep for Evacuation in Mexico

Volcanic threat level raised as ash from Popocatépetl closes airports, schools
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2023 8:02 AM CDT

Some 3 million people in Central Mexico have been told to prepare for a possible evacuation amid rumblings from the country's most dangerous active volcano. Hundreds of tremors have been registered around Popocatépetl volcano within the last week, while smoke and ash fills the air. Some 25 million people live within a 60-mile radius of the volcano, located about 45 miles southeast of Mexico City where the states of Morelos, Puebla, and Mexico intersect, per CNN. Three million of those residents were urged to stay alert and prepare for a possible evacuation on Sunday as the National Civil Protection Coordination (CNPC) increased its volcanic threat level to "yellow phase 3," one level below the "red" alarm.

At this level, magma could be expelled on top of the expected low to intermediate explosive eruptive activity, mild to moderate explosions, and light to moderate ash could fall in surrounding areas and more distant towns, per CBS News. Ash has already led to school closures in more than 50 municipalities across the states of Puebla, Mexico, and Tlaxcala, per CNN. Mexico City's two main airports, Benito Juárez International and Felipe Ángeles International, were each closed for at least five hours on Saturday due to ash, per ABC News. Operations were also suspended at Puebla's Hermanos Serdán International Airport on Monday, per the New York Times. Flights continue to be delayed.

This isn't so unusual. Dormant for 70 years until 1994, Popocatépetl experienced a massive eruption in 2000 and has been spewing rock and ash on and off since 2012. The advisory level was previously raised to "yellow phase 3" in March 2019. This time around, some 35 shelters capable of holding 22,000 people have been set up in Puebla in case evacuations are ordered, per the Times. CNPC head Laura Velazquez Alzua said officials would tour evacuation routes on Monday "to be perfectly sure that our evacuation routes and signs are correct." Meanwhile, the CNPC is urging people to stay indoors as much as possible and to cover their noses and mouths if forced to go outside. (More volcano stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.