Many of Turrialba’s evacuees move to subsidized homes

January 15, 2010

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) moved seven families evacuated because of gas and ash eruptions at Turrialba volcano out of a temporary shelter in the community center in Santa Cruz to houses in the mountain town, the CNE said Monday. Two families remain in the shelter and sleep inside the church next door.

The Mixed Institute for Social Aid (IMAS) subsidized the rent for the houses and located each family as close as possible to their place of work. The CNE provided food, pots and pans, a gas stove, a rice cooker and utensils to each of the seven families. IMAS is looking for houses for the last two families in the Santa Cruz shelter.

A total of 40 people fled their homes after Turrialba erupted earlier this month, in what scientists described as the first display of this magnitude in more than 140 years.

Turrialba is about 40 kilometers northeast of San José.

Volcanologists said on Monday Turrialba continued to spew ash and gas over the weekend, although the widespread ash eruptions that forced the initial evacuations have calmed. The biggest concerns now are the sulfur, carbon dioxide and hydrochloric acid that are seeping out of the volcano.

A team of specialists from the University of Costa Rica´s School of Geology will visit the volcano Tuesday to measure the gases and determine where they are concentrated. The latest tests from the Health Ministry did not indicate any major negative consequences affecting breathing as a result of the gases.

Scientists maintain that lava flows and magma eruptions are highly unlikely and do not believe that landslides will occur.

Nevertheless, the CNE maintained the yellow alert – the second of the country´s three alert levels – for Santa Cruz de Turrialba, Santa Rosa de Oreamuno, Capellades and Pacayas de Alvarado, the districts closest to the volcano´s crater. The commission has restricted all access to areas near the volcano – La Pastora, Las Virtudes and Guarumo de Pacayas –except for scientists who are studying the volcano.

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