One of the world's most active volcanoes, Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano, has come to life, spewing ash, gas, and steam (as seen from the village of Santiago Xalitzintla on July 4).
Just 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Mexico City, the volcano has spit out a cloud of ash and vapor 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) high.
The volcano has been exploding for several days, causing Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention to elevate their national alert rating to Yellow Phase 3. A yellow alert signals that the volcano has demonstrated medium-to-high levels of activity. The next and final step would be a red alert, which would require the evacuation of nearby residents. (Watch video: Volcanoes 101.)
Al Jazeera reported that international airlines have cancelled flights in and out of Mexico City, stranding hundreds of people over the weekend.
This is not the first time the 17,900-foot (5,455-meter) Popocatepetl has been active this year. In June, the warning level for the volcano was also raised to yellow after an explosion generated an ash plume that rose over a mile (1.6 kilometers) above the crater.
Photograph by Francisco Guasco, European Pressphoto Agency
Eruption in Progress
A plume of ash and steam from the Popocatepetl volcano overshadows a Catholic church in Santiago Xalizintla, Mexico, on July 7. (See volcano pictures.)
Photograph by Marco Ugarte, AP
Coated in Ash
Debris from Popocatepetl has blanketed nearby plants in the mountain pass Paso de Cortes in ash and gas, as seen in a July 7 picture.
Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention has observed a glow near the volcano's crater and reported emissions of incandescent fragments. (Explore a volcano interactive.)
Photograph by Imelda Medina, Reuters
To the Rescue
Rescue workers walk in Paso de Cortes as ash and rain fall from nearby Popocatepetl on July 6.
Officials advise people living nearby the volcano to wear long sleeves, cover their mouths and noses from smoke, protect valuable documents, and prepare for a possible evacuation. (Get more volcano safety tips.)
Photograph by Dario Lopez-Mills, AP
Spewing to the Sky
An aerial view of Popocatepetl volcano spews smoke and ash nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) into the sky in the outskirts of Puebla, Mexico, on June 25.
Monitoring the volcano has raised the alert to Yellow Phase 3, the second highest warning on the center's seven-step scale.
Photograph from CENAPRED/Reuters
Smoke spews from Popocatepetl near Santiago Xalitzintla on July 7.
On July 6, Mexico's volcano-monitoring system registered two hours of low-frequency and high-amplitude tremors, accompanied by a column of steam, water, gas, and ash.