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Evacuation complete as Mexico volcano spews ash
President Fox tries to calm fears
SANTIAGO XALITZINTLA, Mexico -- Blotting out the sun, smoke from an ancient Mexican volcano filled the skies on Tuesday over Santiago Xalitzintla, where only a handful of residents remained in the town situated about 64 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Mexico City.
The airport in the town of Puebla remained closed, and authorities warned on Tuesday -- a day after the Popocatepetl volcano erupted in a spectacular show of nature's force -- that the crisis wasn't over,
Many of the 41,000 residents of the highest-risk zone who earlier had refused to leave decided that finally, it was time to go. President Vicente Fox visited residents at shelters on Tuesday, urging calm.
The volcano hurled a cloud of ash two-and-a-half miles high, but it appeared to be blowing away from Mexico City.
Fox: Mexico City safe
Residents of Mexico City, which has a population of 20 million, are concerned about a potential ash fall. Fox said on Monday that "no major atmospheric effects are expected over large cities."
But the gritty volcanic dust has carmaker Volkswagen worried. Special measures at its Mexican plant included sending all finished cars to dealers and shipping ports.
Many residents who have refused to leave said they feared that their homes would be looted or their livestock stolen. After the volcano awoke in 1994, a similar evacuation was ordered. Police sent in to guard belongings were accused by residents of looting.
'Popo's' eruption largest in centuries
The volcano "Popo," as it is known locally, was inactive from 1927 to 1994, when there was a moderate eruption. Since then it has been increasingly active, sending up smoke and ash columns. In November 1998 the volcano spewed fragments of lava rock.
Monday's eruption was the volcano's largest since 800 A.D., when lava poured from its crater and filled nearby valleys, experts said.
On Monday, slabs of molten rock, some with a diameter as big as 45 centimeters (1.5 feet), were shot some 200 meters (650 feet) into the sky above the volcano's crater, experts said.
A 65-year-old man died from a heart attack during the molten shower, which lasted more than an hour. A second shower followed soon afterward.
Mexico's volcano rumbles; thousands flee, others stay
USGS/Cascades Volcano Observatory - Popocatepetl Volcano, Mexico
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