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Mounting Concerns Over Rumbling Mexican Volcano May 17, 2013
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Popocatepetl has covered several towns in ash, including the capital of Puebla state.
Activity at Mexico’s Popocatepetl volcano intensified, prompting officials to raise the alert level as lava bombs were tossed more than a half-mile from the crater.

The country’s National Disaster Prevention Center said ash fell on communities as far away as 15 miles from the towering volcano.

Steam and vapor also blew toward Mexico City, which is located about 35 miles northwest of Popocatepetl.

Vulcanologists cautioned that the volcano’s lava dome could expand and unleash increasingly powerful blasts of ash and lava.

Authorities warned residents in the nearby city of Puebla, and other surrounding communities, that they should be prepared to evacuate quickly should the alert level be raised higher.

Evacuation routes and emergency shelters were being set up as a precaution.

There have been several moderate blasts from “Popo” in recent years, with some forcing the government to evacuate as many as 75,000 people at a time.