A vast amount of volcanic ash covered the Costa Rican capital of San Jose on Friday after a powerful eruption of Turrialba volcano at 7:40 a.m. blew a column of smoke to a height of some 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above the crater.
Communities east of San Jose like Montes de Oca, Goicoechea and Coronado, along with the capital itself, are being covered by falling ash that in some sectors looks like mist and fog.
The volcanic activity continues Friday with the emission of gases and ash, according to a report by the Costa Rican Vulcanology and Seismology Observatory, or Ovsicori.
People in the streets of the capital have chosen to use masks and handkerchiefs to cover their faces so they can breathe safely, as well as hats to protect themselves from the falling ash, as the Health Ministry has recommended.
The Juan Santamaria International Airport, the most important in the country at some 17 kilometers (10 1/2 miles) west of San Jose, has been operating normally up to now.
Activity at Turrialba Volcano, located some 50 kilometers east of the capital, San Jose, increased significantly on Thursday with constant emanations of ash and at least three big explosions. According to the University of Costa Rica's National Seismological Network (RSN), the first explosion occurred at 2:05 p.m. and formed a plume of gas and ash that reached nearly 1 km high. The second, and most prolonged one, occurred at 3:46 p.m. and lasted three minutes.
A few minutes later, at 4:09 p.m., a third explosion was recorded.
The column of gases and ash at about 4:20 p.m. rose to more than 500 meters above the crater and wind conditions at that time caused ash to disperse from the volcano, mostly to the southwest, RSN reported.
This comes on the tail of a strong eruption by volcano Turrialba last week which affected a great part of the Costa Rican capital, which woke up last Thursday covered by a thin layer of ashes.
Television stations transmitted images of the exact moment of the explosion, with a column of smoke and ashes, gases and other materials.
The Turrialba is 3,340 meters high, the 2nd highest in Costa Rica after the Irazu volcano, with 3,432 meters.
NATO foreign ministers have been finalising the alliance's biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War in the face of a more aggressive and unpredictable Russia.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the two-day meeting, which began yesterday, would address 'all the important issues' to prepare for a 'landmark' summit in Poland in July.
NATO leaders will endorse plans to puts more troops into eastern European member states as part of a 'deter and dialogue' strategy.
Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria have all been meant to reassure allies they will not be left in the lurch in any repeat of the Ukraine crisis.
'We will discuss how NATO can do more to project stability... and at the same time address how NATO can continue to adapt to a more assertive Russia to find the right balance between defence and dialogue,' Stoltenberg told reporters.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, attending the Brussels talks, said NATO was building a 'robust' defensive posture on its eastern flank and urged member states to meet pledges to increase defence spending.
Moscow says NATO's response is just a cover for encroaching on its borders, while Washington builds a European missile defence shield which undercuts Russia's nuclear deterrent.
NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Russia over Ukraine but left a channel of communication open through what is known as the NATO-Russia Council (NRC).
The Kremlin has seized on the visit by southeast Asian leaders for a summit as an opportunity to show Russia still has friends on the international stage, despite being cold-shouldered by the West over the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia has had few chances to host major international gatherings since Western sanctions were imposed, so there has been considerable fanfare around this week’s summit with members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
A special commemorative coin was minted for the occasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin flew most of his government to the Black Sea resort of Sochi to take part, and state television broadcast a prime-time report showing how cleaners were vacuuming the carpet at the summit venue in preparation.
“These are difficult times. Europe and America, by declaring sanctions against us, have basically turned away from us, or turned their backs on us,” said Andrei Vorobyov, governor of the Moscow region, part of the Russian delegation at the summit.
“But countries in the Asian and Pacific regions are working very actively with us, and that is very important, very nice,” he told a session on the sidelines of the summit.
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