Volcano billows giant plume for 2nd day in Chile

By EVA VERGARA | June 5, 2011 | 5:13 PM EDT

Volcanic lightning is seen over the Puyehue volcano, over 500 miles south of Santiago, Chile, Sunday June 5, 2011. Authorities have evacuated about 600 people in the nearby area. The volcano was calm on Sunday, one day after raining down ash and forcing thousands to flee, although the cloud of soot it had belched out still darkened skies as far away as Argentina. (AP Photo/Francisco Negroni, AgenciaUno) CHILE OUT, NO PUBLICAR EN CHILE, NO SALES

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A volcano in the Caulle Cordon of southern Chile erupted for a second day Sunday, spewing a plume of gas, smoke and ash six miles (10 kilometers) high and three miles (five kilometers) wide.

Flights in the region were canceled and more than 3,500 people stayed away from their homes near the volcano, which produced an eerie show of lightning dancing through its clouds of ash overnight.

Most of the residents in 22 settlements near the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex evacuated when the eruption began Saturday afternoon and were staying in government shelters or friends' homes. One group of 122 people were being moved from a shelter for fear that the eruption could cause flooding on the Nilahue River.

There were no reports of injuries.

Rodrigo Ubilla, Chile's undersecretary of labor, said some people near the volcano had decided not to leave their homes because they didn't want to abandon their animals.

Wind carried ash across the Andes into Argentina, dropping a blanket of ash on the tourist town of San Carlos de Bariloche, which had to close its airport. Officials there urged people to use cover their mouths and noses against the ash, to stock up on food and water and stay indoors if possible.

Officials closed the border crossing at Cardenal Samore because falling ash lowered visibility on the mountain road.

The eruption is nearly 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Chile's capital, Santiago.

Authorities put the area on alert Saturday morning after a flurry of earthquakes, and the eruption began in the afternoon. The National Emergency Office said it had recorded an average of 230 tremors an hour.

With the Andes running along its entire length, Chile has more than 3,000 volcanoes, of which about 500 are considered active and 60 have had eruptions recorded over the past 450 years.