More active Volcán Turrialba attracts attention

The Turrialba volcano increased its activity Thursday and began emitting an average of two eruptions an hour.

The bulk of the ash fell on the nearby communities of La Pastora, Las Virtudes and El Tapojo, said the national emergency commission.

The Red Sismológica Nacional said that two of its technicians, Luis Fernando Brenes and Jean Paul Calvo, were on the summit of the volcano when the first midday eruption took place. The two men were there to maintain the automatic camera that keeps an eye on the mountain 24 hours a day.

They were not injured, but the video they took was a boon to the national television stations who have been devoting considerable air time to the activities of the mountain.

There still are persons living in the shadow of the mountain and others commute daily to take care of milk cows and other livestock. The rich soil around the volcano is great for truck farming, but all of the above-ground vegetables now have a coating of ash.

Some farmers are trying to wash off the ash, but products such as cabbage have many

This was the 12:05 p.m. eruption that began a chain of such events at the volcano Thursday.

This was the 12:05 p.m. eruption that began a chain of such events at the volcano Thursday.

surfaces, and the vegetables probably will not be marketed.

Other farmers have erected makeshift tents over some of their crop.

Ash also covers the pastures, so the emergency commission said it was going to bring in 5,000 hay bales as feed. Ash has polluted the water, so the emergency commission continues to truck in domestic water.

Schools in the immediate area of the volcano have been closed, and many of the residents have found accommodations elsewhere.

A year ago, the volcano sent up plumes of smoke, vapor and ash to high altitudes, and officials at Juan Santamaría airport had to close the strip because of the damage the tiny ash particles can do to aircraft. That has not happened this year.

Police and rangers from the national park that surrounds the mountain have enforced a 5-kilometer prohibited zone, and they are trying to discourage tourists.

The mountain is under continued surveillance, but even the experts do not dare guess the future. Typically a volcano will go back to sleep after letting off steam, and that is what those involved hope.

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