Previous eruptions from Peru’s most active volcano triggered mudslides and ash clouds responsible for killing livestock.
Officials in the Peruvian government have announced they will declare a state of emergency for the area surrounding the Ubinas volcano, after persistent seismic activity shook the region and sent a column of toxic gas into the air.
Alberto Otárola, the president of Peru’s Council of Ministers, announced on Monday that the emergency declaration was anticipated for the southern department of Moquegua, where the volcano is located.
“We are taking charge of these phenomena, and we are always proactively coordinating with all institutions to face them,” he said.
The emergency order will allow the government to take “the measures necessary” to prevent health risks, Otárola explained. Already, masks are being distributed as ash fills the air.
Some 2,000 people stand to be affected in the immediate area, Otárola said. He urged the population to remain calm.
Moguegua’s regional government raised the alert level on Sunday from yellow to orange, to indicate heightened danger from the volcano.
Ubinas is the most active volcano in the country, forming part of the “Ring of Fire”, an area of seismic activity that surrounds the tectonic plate underneath the Pacific Ocean.
The current eruption began around June 22, according to the Geophysics Institute of Peru (IGP).
The institute recorded 402 earthquakes associated with the volcano between June 23 and 25. During that period of activity, a plume of ash rose nearly 1,300 metres (4,265 feet) above the volcano’s peak.
The National Civil Defence Institute has since advised residents to wear face masks and protect their eyes from the ash as well as create an evacuation plan for use if necessary.
The last large eruption at Ubinas came in 2019, resulting in thousands of people being displaced. While Ubinas has been erupting regularly since 1550, one of the most dramatic incidents came in 2006 after several decades of relative dormancy.
That eruption blanketed the region with ash, prompting evacuations and killing livestock with its toxic emissions.