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Thousands flee from Colombia volcano

Story Highlights

• No reports of deaths or injuries as Nevado del Huila volcano erupts in Colombia
• Eruption Tuesday first on record since Spanish colonization 500 years ago
• Experts haven't ruled out more eruptions
• Avalanches and floods prompt thousands to evacuate
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NEIVA, Colombia (AP) -- The long-dormant Nevado del Huila volcano erupted late Tuesday and early Wednesday, provoking avalanches and floods that swept away houses and bridges and prompted thousands to evacuate.

"There are 10,000 people in the zone, of which we've already evacuated 3,500," Luz Amanda Pulido, director of the national disaster office, told The Associated Press after flying over the volcano in southwest Colombia. There were no reports of deaths or injuries.

The volcano's eruption at 10:37 p.m. Tuesday was its first on record since Colombia was colonized by the Spanish 500 years ago. A second eruption occurred at 2:57 a.m. Wednesday.

Experts did not rule out more eruptions.

"The seismic activity remains light but permanent, and we can't rule out another bigger event in the next hours or days," said Mario Ballesteros, director of the government's Institute for Geology and Mining.

Meanwhile, the Paez and Simbola rivers remain swollen and clogged with an avalanche of rocks.

"The bridges were swept away, the highway used by the indigenous in the zone was destroyed for various kilometers and the problem we have now is the lack of a route to deliver goods and medicines to the population," police Gen. Orlando Paez said.

The Nevado del Huila, crested with a crown of ice, is Colombia's third-highest peak at 18,484 feet (5,634 meters). Located 170 miles (270 kilometers) southwest of Bogota, it awoke in March with a series of internal rumblings.

In 1985, the Nevado del Ruiz volcano exploded, setting off a series of mudslides that wiped the village of Armero away, killing around 21,000 people.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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The Nevado del Huila, in an aerial view from February, is Colombia's third-highest peak at 18,484 feet. It's southwest of Bogota.

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