Thousands flee their homes and flights are grounded as Chilean volcano sends plumes of ash showering down
The Chilean volcano which erupted on Monday has sent a towering plume of ash across South America, forcing thousands from their homes, grounding airline flights in southern Argentina and coating ski resorts with a gritty layer of dust instead of snow.
Booming explosions echoed across the Andes as toxic gases belched up from a three-mile-long fissure in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex - a ridge between two craters just west of the Chilean-Argentine border that began erupting Saturday.
Winds blew a six-mile high cloud of ash all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and even into southern Buenos Aires province, hundreds of miles to the north-east.
Grounded: An aircraft belonging to Austral with ash on it from Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caullevolcano chain remains stranded on the tarmac of the sky resort San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina's Patagonia.
This development is the latest volcanic activity to affect the country. Three years ago, Chile'sChaiten volcano erupted spectacularly for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere and was visible from space.
An extraordinary cloud formation is created by the ash rising several miles into the atmosphere. It was the latest in a series of volcanic eruptions in Chile in recent years. Chile's Chaiten volcano erupted spectacularly in 2008 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere.