April 21, 2006Clouds of poisonous ash and acidic smoke from
a volcano in southern Peru are causing severe respiratory problems
for people and animals living in the mountain's shadow.
Locals have been wearing face masks to keep from breathing ashes and fumes, and some have even bestowed the protection on their livestock, as seen in the above image of a calf taken on Wednesday.
The Ubinas volcano sits in the Moquegua region near the southern tip of Peru (see map). It has been inactive since 1969 but began periodically spewing smoke and ash earlier this month.
Yesterday the volcano sent a plume of gases more than half a mile (about one kilometer) into the air, sparking local officials to declare an alert for the region and order evacuations.
Hundreds of people have reported eye and respiratory ailments, and some animals have died from eating grass covered in volcanic ash, including 20 llamas (related photo: llama herd).
"The cows and the lambs don't want to eat," Lucia Condori, a villager living 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) south of the volcano, told the Reuters news agency. Many villagers are refusing to leave their homes unless they can take their livestock with them.
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