UPDATE 3-Flights cancelled as ash cloud pours from Chile volcano

jueves 23 de abril de 2015 17:32 GYT

(Adds comment from Argentina meteorologist, update on flights)

By Rosalba O'Brien and Anthony Esposito

SANTIAGO, April 23 (Reuters) - An ash cloud from the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile that erupted unexpectedly on Wednesday was blowing into Chile and Argentina on Thursday, forcing the cancellation of flights from nearby cities in both countries and blanketing residents in ash.

The volcano, which last had a major eruption in 1961, has belched a spectacular plume of ash and smoke around 15 kilometers (9 miles) into the sky near the popular tourist town of Puerto Varas, some 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) south of Santiago.

Calbuco erupted twice over the last 24 hours and has now paused, but it remains unstable and could erupt again, experts said.

Winds have already carried part of the ash cloud to the city of Chillan, some 400 kilometers south of Santiago, and could reach the capital by the end of the day, said government meteorologist Arnoldo Zuniga.

Most of the ash, however, was headed over the Andes mountains into neighboring Argentina, and weather experts said it could reach as far as Buenos Aires province, some 1,500 kilometers to the east.

"At the moment we don't forecast the ashes will reach Buenos Aires city, depending on whether or not there is a third eruption," said Ignacio Lopez, a meteorologist at Argentina's national meteorology center.

Volcanic ash can damage aircraft and makes flying dangerous. In 2011, the eruption of Chile's Puyehue volcano sent ash high into the atmosphere, leading to flight cancellations as far away as Australia.   Continuación...