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Peru's volcano spills ash on Colca Canyon

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016

Ash from the eruption of the Sabancaya volcano in the Andes of southern Peru has fallen on towns in the scenic Colca Canyon, one of the key tourist areas in the country's southern Arequipa region.

The Ingemmet volcanological observatory said ash had fallen on 11 towns in the valley, which is in Caylloma province.

Ash started falling in the canyon about 8am, it said, with a dispersion radius of between 30-35 kilometres.

Colca Canyon is one of the world's deepest. It's a popular trekking destination for tourists, who marvel at the swooping giant Andean condors who live there.

Peru, for the first time in recorded history, has two volcanoes erupting simultaneously, with activity at Sabancaya and Ubinas, both in the southern part of the country.

Scientists said that the two ongoing eruptions are merely a coincidence since the volcanoes are separated by some 100km and do not share any underground connection or magma chambers.

Sabancaya began erupting last Sunday after remaining dormant for 18 years, while Ubinas has been in an eruptive phase since 2013, with small periodic explosions continuing in its interior and producing gas and ash emissions.

The crater of Sabancaya - its name meaning "tongue of fire" in Quechua Indian language - is located 5,976m above sea level. The crater of Ubinas is 5,672m above sea level.

Ingemmet specialists were to resume their fieldwork at Sabancaya on Thursday, taking the first eruption samples and data for analysis.

The ash emissions, which have risen to a height of 2,000 metres above the volcano, were said to have affected the towns and villages of Parjo, Cajamarcana, Sallalli, Pampasepina, Hornillo, Patamapa, Yanque, Coporaque, Ichupampa, Achoma and Chivay, the latter of which is the capital of Caylloma.

Experts recommended that authorities implement measures to help protect the local population such as distributing masks to residents to prevent respiratory problems.

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