Rain washes away some ash, but Turrialba volcano erupts again

The Turrialba volcano erupted conveniently Thursday just in time for the 6 p.m. television news.

Experts are warning that the rain of volcanic ash might continue for years.

Farmers got a break Thursday when moderate rains washed the vegetables and the pastures around the volcano. In addition, the Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandería said that vegetables exposed to ash were suitable for consumption based on tests done by the Ministerio de Salud. Although gritty, the ash from the volcano does not contain heavy metals or other dangerous chemicals, the ministry said.

Agricultural officials just encouraged vegetables users to wash the products carefully.

Some of the vegetables, carrots, potatoes and onions develop below ground, so they have not been exposed to the ash.

Others like broccoli and cabbage usually are boiled anyway.

Despite the most recent eruption, volcano officials still are talking about a lessening of activity. But they also expressed concern about the emission of hot material within 500 meters of the crater. There also were eruptions Thursday at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.

The column of ash dispersed to the north as well as the northwest for the first time Thursday. In the past it has gone to the west or northwest.

Ash was reported in Cartago, Desamparados, Llorente de Tibás, Tres Ríos, Barrio Don Bosco, Curridabat, Santa Cecilia de San Marcos, Tarrazú and San Ignacio de Acosta. A strong smell of sulphur was reported in Pavas, Zapote, Escazú, San Antonio de Escazú, San Francisco de Dos Ríos and Sabanilla Montes de Oca.

The national emergency commission said that ash was detected in at least 30 communities.

Two technicians got a good look at the eruptions. They were at the summit of the mountain installing a new monitoring camera to replace one that has been out of service.

The area that is within a five-kilometer radius of the volcano remains off-limits except to those who live nearer and those involved in monitoring. Schools there have been closed again.

This was how cabbage looked before the rains.

This was how cabbage looked before the rains.

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