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Gas Explosion from Colombia Mud Volcano Sparks Panic October 22, 2010
Mud volcano near Arboletes
Below: Corpouraba geologists watch as the last of the mud volcano's latest venting spews flames.
A burst of flammable gas from a mud volcano late Monday in northwestern Colombia destroyed a small area of nearby crops and killed a few farm animals while sending nearby residents rushing for safety.

Several people sustained minor injuries near the town of Arboletes during the brief panic, according to a local clinic.

"Just after 8:30 in the evening, we saw a high flame that lit the sky. When we went to check, we realized that there was an eruption of mud," Arboletes councilman Jose Luis David Martinez told El Colombiano.

Resident Graciela Serna told the paper that the blast came from an “old volcano” that has produced several eruptions, including one four years ago that was very strong. She said Monday’s explosion was the worst in memory.

That fiery blast prompted officials to move 14 nearby homes to a safer distance from the natural geologic feature. Officials credit that move with the lack of any fatalities from Monday’s explosive venting. An eruption three years ago spewed only mud.

Mud volcanos are different from their igneous counterparts in that they are created by the expulsion of liquids and gasses, rather than lava.

A slurry of mud and gas is a common product of a mud volcano eruption, sometimes including fiery bursts of methane and other gases.

Photos: Corpouraba (Gov. of Colombia)