Volcano Calbuco in southern Chile erupted for the first time in more than four decades on Wednesday, sending a thick plume of ash and smoke several kilometres into the sky.

As night fell, about 4,000 people had so far moved out of the area, an evacuation radius of 20 kilometres had been established and classes were canceled in surrounding towns, authorities said.

Chile’s Onemi emergency office declared a red alert following the sudden eruption at around 6 p.m. local time (2100 GMT). Calbuco lies about 1,000 km south of the capital, Santiago, near the tourist town of Puerto Varas.

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