Popocatépetl envelops neighbors between ashes and diseases

They have spent a lifetime breathing fragments and materials that expel the volcano: they are the victims of the colossus of fire. Animals, rivers and vegetation have also been blackened for decades due to the ash that permeates the air.
They have spent a lifetime breathing fragments and materials that expel the volcano: they are the victims of the colossus of fire. Animals, rivers and vegetation have also been blackened for decades due to the ash that permeates the air.

Baptized in different ways, over generations the Popocatépetl volcano has been a blessing and a curse at the same time for the inhabitants who live and protect their surroundings.

They are the side effect of Don Goyo, who expels ash, gases and incandescent material that has sprinkled the municipalities of the State of Mexico and Puebla for several generations.

There are hundreds of families that are used to the roar of the volcano; moreover, they affirm that they have never been intimidated, even when the local and federal authorities come to modify the preventive phases and threaten to evacuate the areas because they assure that these changes are "normal".

There are even those who maintain that they deliberately provoke the volcano, "loot their minerals, their resources, their vegetation and all the wealth that the smoking mountain can provide."

"He (Popocatépetl) gets angry because they come to loot him. Her resources are stolen, she is bombed and that makes her angry, but she has never scared us, "says Dona Bertha, who lives in Amecameca, one of the municipalities closest to the volcano.

Here the lives of the inhabitants are normal, they are not afraid of the fumaroles or the explosions of incandescent material thrown by the Popo for years; they even respect and venerate him to such an extent that they render worship and ceremonies from time to time to thank him for the fruits he gives them and for nature.

However, living a few kilometers from the crater has generated a very high cost for one's health: diseases in the respiratory tract, eye irritation, contaminated spring, and unusable crops; It has even brought the death of its animals due to the frequent fall of volcanic ash.

This problem is confirmed by Ramón Espinosa, deputy director of Volcanic Risks at the National Center for Disaster Prevention (Cenapred), who warns that the effects of the materials that the volcano expels in the population may vary, depending on the level of exposure.

"There are people who live at the foot of the volcano and probably have been receiving their ash from time to time for 25 years, that exposes them too much and the problems can be varied," he said in an interview with Publimetro.

The situation is such that authorities have detected cases of people with severe health damage from this exposure, such as respiratory problems and burning eyes, among other ailments.

Before the alert, Eusebio Flores, merchant of the center of Amecameca, knows that there is a latent risk; However, he does not fear him, nor is he afraid, only respect, above all because he leads a life contemplating him, as do his children and his wife.

"Only God knows when it erupts, we venerate it and respect it because it is part of our landscape," he says.

The same worldview is shared by Mario Rodolfo García, a transporter of the area, who says they are accustomed to the 'scares' of Popocatépetl. That is why they do not run away from him, and if there is an evacuation order, they assure that they would not comply because of the fear of stealing their belongings and their assets.

In San Pedro Nexapa, a town that belongs to Amecameca and which is located on the edge of the volcano, the inhabitants have so normalized the noises that this geological structure emits that they are no longer disturbed; they do not do it either because of Civil Protection warnings or those of the government of the State of Mexico.

It is a town that looks semi-desert and suffers from the lack of basic services such as drinking water, electricity and asphalt in several of its streets.

For the natives of this place, the volcano serves more like a light show than a threat, which lives and breathes all the time through explosions of smoke and incandescent material.

However, the fall of ash in this area has taken a high toll for most of its inhabitants, who say they have had to deal with diseases of the respiratory tract. Others see how their food crops are covered with this material that rains every time Popocatépetl breathes and releases plumes of smoke several kilometers high.

Nobody is saved, neither the animals nor the bodies of water that are in the surroundings of this town, which is the last step to reach the skirts of the Colossus.

"I got sick from my eye. It hurt me a lot because it had a lot of sand, and one of the respiratory tracts also gets sick, especially due to allergies and all that to which one is exposed, "says Victoriana Sánchez, 75 years old.

Consulted by Publimetro, the authorities of Civil Protection of the State of Mexico agreed that the ashes damage mainly the respiratory system, especially of those who suffer diseases of the lung, such as asthma and bronchitis. The above can trigger symptoms such as watery and reddened eyes, dry mouth and throat, nasal congestion and, if that is not enough, this can worsen in people with chronic lung diseases because they can present whistles in the chest, bronchial spasms and diarrhea.

The locals live with the memory of the evacuation that occurred on December 18, 2000, when the volcano erupted and alerted all the municipalities of the state of Mexico, leaving stranded for two weeks to hundreds of local families.

This is how Gregoria Rivera Hernández, 85 years old, remembers that along with hundreds of inhabitants he had to vacate his house due to the awakening of Don Goyo's fury on that date.

Now he says he would not leave his home again, "not even a joke", a feeling he says he shares with the other people who live in San Pedro Nexapa, due to the robbery that occurred during the evacuation.

This despite appeals from the authorities to have their most important documents ready and canned food, easy to carry clothes and a first aid kit. Therefore they refuse to leave their homes, their animals and their heritage, because they share a feeling of respect for the volcano, which they do not fear, even when their gases and materials have diminished their health.

The highest risk

380 thousand people live around 25-kilometer area of Popocatépetl.

Mexico on alert due to the activity of Popocatépetl volcano

The government of Mexico on Thursday raised the alert for the activity of Popocatépetl volcano, located in the center of the country after this morning was recorded an exhalation of ash, gases and incandescent material.

The authorities placed the alert in "Amarillo Phase 3", which means that there is an intermediate to high activity in the volcano, with fumaroles, gas and slight ashfall in nearby areas, although it discards the evacuation of the population.

In that phase of the alert, explosions of increasing intensity are also recorded with the release of incandescent fragments of the volcano, located in the limits of the central states of Puebla, Morelos and the State of Mexico.

"We are seeing a change in the behavior" of the volcano and "as a preventive measure, we have taken the decision to modify the traffic light" of alert, said David Leon, national coordinator of Civil Protection, in a joint press conference with the National Center for Disaster Prevention (CENAPRED).

"The phase change has a preventive nature, the population must be attentive to notices from official sources, and the warrant is repeated not to approach the Popocatépetl volcano and much less to the crater," Civil Protection had warned on Twitter.

The new phase is prior to the red alert when evacuations of the surrounding population are already taking place before an increased risk.

Previously, the government had maintained the alert in "Amarillo Phase 2", in which there is a slight fall of ash and incandescent fragments, as well as mudflows or short-range debris.

In Santiago Xalitzintla, Puebla, one of the closest towns to the volcano, the inhabitants carry out their activities on a daily basis, without observing a greater presence of the authorities or the suspension of classes.

"It's been years, that the traffic lights go up and nothing happens, it has resounding strong (strong) last week, but nothing happens, but if they tell us we have to go, then we're going," he told the AFP Julio Cuautli, a 68-year-old farmer.

"We were in the snack the other day and the explosion was heard loudly, more than other times, we scared ourselves and went out to see, everything was on fire (incandescent material on the hillside) and if they told us to leave, we would do it".

The Popocatépetl volcano, popularly known as "Don Goyo", has increased its activity since 1994, and the 25 million people who live less than 100 km from the crater make it one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

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