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Government Orders ‘Preventive Evacuation’ of Volcano Area

January 4, 1986

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ The government today ordered a ″preventive evacuation″ of about 30,000 residents along the riverbeds in the Armero Valley, where 25,000 people were killed last November in a volcano eruption that unleashed a wall of mud.

Presidential spokesman Victor Ricardo said the measure by the National Committee of Emergency came after the volcano the Nevado del Ruiz began spewing ashes at about 3 a.m.

Ricardo, the president of the emergency committe, said today in an radio announcement that residents along the rivers in the Armero Valley should begin moving to higher elevations.

Police said the evacuation began at 6 a.m. in the towns of Ambalema, Chinchina, Honda and Mariquita. The combined population of the four towns is estimated at between 30,000 to 40,000.

The Nevado del Ruiz erupted on Nov. 13, melting part of its snowcap and creating a 150-foot-high wall of mud that swept down the Lagunilla River. The mud and debris buried the town of Armero and partially destroyed 13 villages.

About 23,000 of Armero’s estimated 28,000 residents either were killed or missing after the mud destroyed the town. Another 2,000 people were reported dead or missing in Chinchina on the opposite side of the Nevado del Ruiz, the government has said.

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