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WATCH: Mexico volcano blows its top, alert level raised

Friday, March 29th 2019, 7:33 pm - The volcano has seen elevated activity levels over the past few months.

A dramatic eruption at Mexico's Popocatepetl volcano saw authorities raise the alert level to the highest status possible before evacuations must be ordered.

The country's civil protection agency, Coordinación Nacional de Protección Civil, issued a level three yellow alert after an eruption at the volcano on Thursday sent a plume of ash towering three kilometres into the air, and sent debris flying as much as two kilometres away.

By Friday morning, agency said 119 smaller eruptions were observed in the 24 hours since the larger one on Thursday, spewing rock, ash and poison gas.

The authorities have been warning people not to approach the volcano, not only because of falling debris blasted out from the crater, but also due to the risk of mudslides and debris flows if heavy rains move in. So far, no evacuations have been ordered, but the Pueblo state government has prepped about 200 temporary shelters in case evacuations become necessary.

The Associated Press reports the volcano has been quite active in the months leading up to this week's eruption.

Popocatepetl straddles the boundaries between the states of Morelos and Pueblo, and is not far from the nation's capital, Mexico City. Around 25 million people live within 100 km of the volcano, around one fifth of the Mexican population.

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