The Galeras Volcano in southern Colombia registered two moderate earthquakes on Tuesday that left two people dead, several homes and roadways damaged, said local authorities.
The back-to-back volcanic earthquakes have placed local authorities in the nearby city of Pasto, capital of Narino Province, on high alert.
“We have activated all of the protocols …to attend to the emergency,” Narino Governor Camilo Romero said on Twitter.
The two people died when their house was crushed by falling rocks.
According to the Colombian Geological Service, the first quake occurred at 4:35 a.m. local time (about 0935 GMT) and registered 4.5 on the Richter scale. With an epicenter just 30 km deep, the seismic waves were strongly felt in various regions around the volcano.
A minute later, a second quake measuring magnitude-4.3 hit, with the epicenter at a depth of 30 km. Several mild aftershocks have followed.
Officials suspended classes in local schools as a precaution.
Galeras is Colombia’s most active volcano. Its last eruption was in January 2010, when some 8,000 people were evacuated.
Colombian authorities are reporting significantly increased seismic activity under Galeras volcano, one of Colombia’s most frequently active volcanos. Increased seismicity was first recorded on May 29 and June 2, 2018. The last eruption of this volcano took place in 2014 (VEI 2).
A total of 310 earthquakes have been reported between 09:35 UTC on June 12 when a M4.5 volcano-tectonic earthquake was recorded and 04:35 UTC today. Other geophysical and geochemical monitoring parameters have no significant changes.
Some of the quakes were felt by nearby residents, according to the preliminary reports of the Office of Disaster Risk Management of the Municipality of Pasto.
The quakes produced several landslides in the municipality of Narino, affecting homes in the northern parts of the city of San Juan de Pasto.
The Alert Level remains at III (Yellow; “changes in the behavior of volcanic activity”) since 2011.
SGC urged residents to only heed information from official sources, adding that someone is spreading false information about the activity status of the volcano through social media. This false information is designed to generate panic and confusion in nearby communities, SGC scientists said.