It looks like a scene from a Hollywood movie. Lava spewing hundreds of feet in the air as volcanic lightning strikes nearby.
One of South America’s most active volcanoes is responsible for this spectacular display. At 3am local time, the volcano Villarrica erupted in a shower of lava, rock and smoke. Local authorities issued a red alert according to the Associated Press and ordered the evacuation several thousand people in small towns around the volcano, including the vacation town of Pucon.
Villarrica’s eruption wasn’t a total surprise. The volcano had been showing signs of increased seismic activity in recent weeks. In fact, the National Service of Geology and Mining of Chile issued an orange alert for Villarrica volcano yesterday. The alert came after officials confirmed the increase in seismic activity.
In a statement, the agency said seismic activity “has increased three times compared with early February.”
Volcanic activity has eased a bit since its initial eruption. The main concerns now are noxious volcanic gas and the possibility of mudslides, from lava melting snow and ice.
With so many people living near the area, incredible photos are emerging on social media. Here’s several photos of Villarrica’s awesome display this morning.