Mexican volcano prompts evacuations of 14,000

A steady stream of ash and smoke from central Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano prompted the preliminary evacuation of at least 14,000 people from villages closest to the crater, the state news agency reported. Carlos Alberto Julian y Nacer, the interior minister of Puebla state in which Popocatepetl is located, told reporters that seven villages near the volcano's crater would be evacuated as a precaution, reported news agency Notimex. Popocatepetl picked up in activity earlier this week, sending plumes of gas, smoke and ash as far as a 50 mile (80 km) radius, an area that includes parts of greater Mexico City. The volcano sits about 40 miles (60 km) from the capital. The volcano, which stands 17,884 feet (5,451 meters) high, has showered a number of communities with a continuing rain of ash for several days. The volcano's name means "smoking mountain" in the indigenous Nahuatl language. It has been active for the past six years, Reuters reports.

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