A volcano that was dormant for 42 years in Chile has erupted twice this week in a magnificent display. But the stunning twin blasts captured on photo and video has forced about 4,000 residents in towns nearby to evacuate as ash blanketed their neighborhoods.
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The city of Ensenada, at the foot of the Calbuco volcano, was one of the most thickly covered in ash - which caused roofs to collapse and raised concerns about possible water contamination, respiratory illnesses and more grounded flights.
Chile's national geology and mining service also warned people to prepare for a possible third and "even more aggressive eruption."
Chile President Michelle Bachelet, who visited the Ensenada area Thursday, declared a state of emergency.
"We don't have any problems with supplies, water or sewage up to now," she said. "Our problem is a respiratory one, from inhaling all of this ash, and the fact that this ash could generate some sort of environmental contamination."
Ensenada was like a ghost town Thursday except for about 30 residents, most in masks, who refused to evacuate, authorities said.
An occasional dog and horse could be seen roaming the village's only street while a few residents were shoveling ash off their roofs.
One local, Daniel Patricio Gonzalez, left Ensenada with his family but returned Thursday night to check out the damage to his house and restaurant.
Gonzalez discovered the roof of his restaurant had caved in.
"This hurts a bit, but there's nothing to do against nature," he said. "The important thing is that my family is fine."
No injuries have been reported in Ensenada, and the only person reported missing after the eruptions was located Thursday.
Numerous airlines cancelled flights to and from Pueto Montt, another city near the volcano, due to airborne ash that can severely damage jet engines.
Winds even blew the volcanic dust over 50 miles northeast to a small town in Argentina, where cars and streets were coated with ash.
The 6,500-foot-high Calbuco volcano last erupted in 1972.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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