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Thousands evacuate as volcano erupts in southern Chile

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The government orders some 3,500 people to leave their homes
  • There were no immediate reports of injuries
  • Ash clouds waft toward Argentina

(CNN) -- A volcanic eruption in southern Chile Saturday shot smoke and ash miles into the sky and forced the evacuation of some 3,500 people.

"We are taking all necessary precautions," said Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, announcing the government's evacuation orders.

An explosion in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex sent plumes of smoke more than six miles into the air, the state emergency office said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Video from the area showed white smoke drifting against an otherwise bright blue sky.

Hinzpeter said ash from the eruption could spread quickly with the wind and warned it had already reached parts of neighboring Argentina.

Chile is located on the so-called "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.