by Staff Writers
Chinandega, Nicaragua (AFP) Dec 26, 2012
Some 1,500 farmers living on the slopes of the San Cristobal volcano refused to leave Wednesday, despite being ordered to evacuate as the volcano spewed gas, sand and ash.
"People have not evacuated because we do not want to go and leave the area abandoned," Maria Pereira told AFP.
Pereira lives in "Grecia 4," a community of about 600 people at the base of the volcano, in the Chinandega department.
She said columns of ash "bathed the trees, houses, and roads in white" and "pretty sand fell" in the morning. She said by early afternoon volcanic activity had decreased, though in the evening new columns of ash shot up.
In another community near the volcano, Bethlehem, some farmers resisted efforts of Civil Defense officials to convince them to obey the evacuation order.
Around 140 Civil Defense troops have been deployed to "persuade" farmers to move away from the danger zone, state deputy Colonel Nestor Solis told reporters.
The government issued a yellow alert on Wednesday, ordering the evacuation of 300 families living near the volcano.
Reiterating the evacuation order Wednesday, first lady Rosario Murillo, a government spokeswoman, said "the situation of the volcano is unstable."
But she did not specify how many had obeyed the evacuation order or where they are being housed.
San Cristobal, the tallest of Nicaragua's seven active volcanoes, is believed to have erupted for the first time in 1685.
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