Chile lifts volcano evacuation

Thousands of evacuated Chileans have been allowed to return home two weeks after the eruption of the Puyehue volcano, which sent a huge ash cloud into the sky and disrupted air travel in the southern hemisphere.

"The volcano's activity has been steadily decreasing, which allows us today to lift the evacuation order in the area and permit the 4,270 people who have been evacuated to return to their homes," said Laurence Golborne, Chile's minister for mining and energy.

The June 4 eruption of the Puyehue volcano high in the Andes mountains wrought havoc with air travel across South America, Australia and New Zealand for several days, stranding thousands of passengers, in addition to the evacuations.

Chilean geologists have predicted that the volcano will become increasingly quiet over the next two weeks, and that the column of smoke and ash that caused thousands of flight cancellations and delays would continue to dissipate.

- AFP

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