MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano, outside the Mexican capital, spouted a large column of ash and steam Wednesday but officials did not raise alert levels or start evacuations.
“We had an increase in activity … we saw the emission of a large column of water vapor with significant amounts of ash which reached 1.5 to two kilometers (0.9 to 1.2 miles) high,” said Carlos Gutierrez, director of the Center for Disaster Prevention, on Red radio.
Authorities did not yet plan to raise the alert level, Gutierrez said, as officials in the nearby, central state of Puebla prepared temporary shelters for possible evacuations and locals donned face masks.
Authorities raised the alert level Monday to the high “yellow phase three,” extending a security radius around the towering, glacier-clad volcano 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the Mexican capital.
Popocatepetl, Mexico’s second highest peak at some 5,485 meters (18,000 feet), means “smoking mountain” in the indigenous Nahuatl language.