According to local scientists quoted by El País, the high level of activity of the volcano will continue and an ongoing “ash fall” is possible. It is noted that after more than 40 hours of continuous emissions into the atmosphere from the crater of gas, ash and pieces of rock, the volcano should stabilize. Volcanologists do not expect a powerful eruption from Popocatepetl, although a high level of activity, accompanied by periodic emissions, will continue.
The Popocatepetl volcano, the second highest mountain at 5426 meters, woke up in 1994. Today, the largest settlement is located in the immediate vicinity of the volcano: less than 100 kilometers to the northwest is the capital of country – Mexico City. Within a radius of only 20 kilometers around Popocatepetl, 9 million live, and at a distance of 60 km – 25 million.
In general, Mexico is rightly called the land of volcanoes. There are over 2000 here, and 48 are active or potentially active. More than 60% of the country’s population lives on lands modified in one way or another by volcanoes with their eruptions.
Amid increased Popocatepetl activity, approximately 7,000 troops were mobilized from the neighboring states of Puebla, Morelos, and the metropolitan area. Schools have been closed and authorities regularly issue official warnings to the public. In this regard, on May 21, the country’s civil defense department raised the level of danger to “third yellow”. Mexico has introduced a “traffic light system” warning of volcanic danger. “Yellow level” means high volcano activity, but the situation in the surrounding areas remains completely under control and does not pose an immediate threat.
At this stage, the population is required to observe heightened precautions. For example, it is recommended to organize a minimum supply of food and water, to keep documents, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and the keys to the house at hand. Additionally, it is desirable to minimize outdoor exposure near an ash-emitting volcano, as ash irritates the airways, eyes, and can also cause itchy skin. When wet, it forms a thick substance that is difficult to wash off.
However, it is clearly not worth dramatizing the situation. Scientists point out that what is happening now is far from being an isolated case. A similar increase in Popocatepetl activity has occurred several times in the recent past. But strong eruptions of this volcano occurred 23,000 and 14,000 years ago. Similar to the current activity cycle occurred in 1919-1927. In general, Popocatepetl, scientists say, wakes up every 70 years, stays awake for a while, and then falls asleep again. The current cycle of activity began in 1994. In 2000, for example, the situation was much more dramatic: the authorities had to evacuate more than 42,000 residents.
Meanwhile, in a number of nearby schools, students have been sent to distant classrooms, work at the international airport in the city of Puebla has been suspended and air ports in the capital have reported a delay in the cancellation of more than 200 flights.
It is worth noting the beautiful legend associated with Popocatepetl (as it is called in Mexico – “Popo” – approximately “RG”), next to which there is another already extinct volcano, Istaxihuatl.
Thus, Istaxihuatl was a princess, the daughter of the chief of the Tlaxcaltec Indians. At that time, they were at enmity with the ruling Aztecs. The girl, famous for her beauty, fell in love with one of the most outstanding warriors – Popokatepetl. Father Istaxihuatl was against this marriage, but promised to give his blessing after the return from the Popo War: the leader of the Tlaxcaltecs decided to fight for independence from the Aztecs.
Shortly after Popocatepetl left for the war, another admirer appeared in Istaxihuatl’s life, who tricked the poor girl into saying that Popo had died in battle. So he wanted to marry the heiress to the throne, but she could not survive the death of her lover and committed suicide.
Popocatepetl himself returned triumphantly safe and sound. When he learned that his beloved Istaxihuatl was no more, with all the gold he had obtained during the campaign, Popo built a high pyramidal tomb, on top of which he laid the body of the princess. Nearby he built himself a pyramid, to the top of which he himself climbed with a burning torch to keep his beloved eternal sleep. Years later, these pyramids were covered in dirt and snow and turned into volcanoes.
But further from them, as the legend says, the gods created another distant volcano – Sitlaltepetl. This is a reminder of the vile Indian who deceived Istaxihuatl. Now, in splendid isolation from afar, being the highest volcano in North America (5636 meters), it watches the lifeless princess and the inconsolable Popokatepetl, still periodically spitting ash and flame. But Sitlaltepetl is the only volcano in the world whose lava in the crater is in a frozen state…
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