El Salvador volcano update

As of the afternoon on New Years' Eve, the Chaparrastique volcano continues to send up small clouds of smoke, but has not erupted again with the force of Sunday's explosion.   Currently MARN has a live camera feed aimed at the volcano which you can watch to see what it is doing at this very instant.   Check it out at this link.

Here is a picture of the crater from an overflight earlier today:

The Civil Protection authorities revised alert levels in the country earlier today.   The alert level in San Miguel Department remains at orange.   Usulutan has been lowered to yellow, and the rest of the country lowered to green.   Flights resumed into El Salvador's international airport.

Authorities are currently urging people who had been evacuated from the immediate vicinity of the volcano (within a 3km radius) not to leave shelters  yet and return home.   While the level of activity monitored in the volcano has dropped significantly, authorities have not yet ruled out the possibility of another episode.   Despite the advice of authorities, many have left the shelters to return to safeguard their homes.

Satellite images captured Sunday's eruption and subsequent ash cloud (click to enlarge):

This animated set of satellite images shows the eruption and spread of the ash cloud over time:

Yesterday President Mauricio Funes toured the affected area and spoke with residents in shelters.

See Funes' talks to affected people in the volcano zone at this link.  In general the response by national and local authorities to the eruption has appeared to be relatively effective.  Of course in this heated electoral season, there were claims that politics was motivating relief activities whenever someone would show up with food or relief supplies wearing party colors.

There was good news today from the Ministry of Agriculture which had surveyed crop lands and coffee plantations in the zone around the volcano and found little reason to expect any significant impact on the output of the area's farms.   

Comprehensive coverage of events is being carried by La Prensa Grafica here.