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Costa Rica announces increased security measures for active volcanoes

January 14, 2019

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) announced Monday increased security measures at the country’s active volcanoes.

In a press conference, the CNE said that at Turrialba Volcano, which has presented ongoing volcanic activity since 2017, new shelters now provide protection to scientists, park rangers and other authorized personnel near the crater.

The setup is similar to the one at Poás Volcano, which reopened to the public last August but has exhibited increased activity since late 2018. Despite the additional security measures, CNE said Monday the park may temporarily close to the public at times in 2019.

“Very few countries in the world take these initiatives to help ensure the public’s safety when they visit national parks with active volcanoes,” said the CNE’s Alexander Solis.

Access to Turrialba Volcano will remain restricted indefinitely, with visitors prohibited from coming within two kilometers of the crater. CNE explained it will need to construct additional shelters for tourists and work with the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) to improve road infrastructure prior to lifting limitations.

“We have reports of people getting in to the park, and we have to emphasize that it is not safe,” Solis said.

According to the CNE’s Guillermo Alvarado, Costa Rica is the first Latin American country with bunker-type shelters for safety at active volcanoes.

At Irazú Volcano, which has maintained lower volcanic activity, the CNE is monitoring landslides that could affect communications towers on which much of the country is dependent.

CNE also announced Monday that it will increase monitoring efforts at several other active volcanoes across Costa Rica.

According to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI), Poás Volcano and Turrialba Volcano are both at a level three of volcanic activity, indicating a period of “stable eruption” that includes passive ash emissions and tremors.

The organization said that since Poás Volcano reopened to the public, the National Park sees 300 daily visitors during weekdays and accommodates about 1,000 daily during weekends. Spots are limited and must be pre-booked via an online portal, and guests must wear hard hats when they approach the lookout.


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