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600 Evacuate as Puyehue Volcano Erupts in Chile

A column of smoke and ashes comes out from the Puyehue volcano, some 1,100 kilometers south of Santiago, Chile, Saturday, June 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Martin Iniguez)

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The Puyehue volcano in southern Chile erupted Saturday, sending a huge plume of smoke and ash into the sky and prompting officials to evacuate about 600 people living nearby. There were no reports of injuries.

Authorities had put the area around the volcano on alert Saturday morning after a flurry of earthquakes, and the eruption began in the afternoon. The National Emergency Office said it recorded an average of 230 tremors an hour.

On the other side of the Andes in Argentina, heavy ash fell on the city of San Carlos de Bariloche.

Officials warned residents of the area around the city to take precautions against a possible prolonged ashfall. They urged people to stock up on food and water and to stay home.

The volcano is nearly 500 miles (800 kilometers) south of Chile's national capital, Santiago.

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