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» »Unlabelled » Ecosystem disaster: hundreds of lakes and rivers polluted by ash in Chile and Argentina

June 10, 2011SANTIAGO – Just days ago tourists flocked to see the emerald waters of Argentina’s renowned Lake Nahuel Huapi – home to several species of trout which attract anglers from all over the world. Today the lake is covered with huge patches of black and brown ash from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano which exploded into life after decades of lying dormant in south-central Chile. Roads blanketed with volcanic pumice rocks and stones near the Cardenal Samore border pass between Argentina and Chile were inspected by police officers wearing masks for protection against toxic gases Chilean Agricultural Minister Antonio Galilea said the ash has caused the deaths of thousands of fish north of the volcano by contaminating rivers and lakes. Livestock is also unable to drink the water. Some roads and farms have been covered by ash up to 29 inches deep. Vicente Nunez, director of the National Emergency Office, said vulcanologists reported that ‘there has been a decrease in seismic activity’ in the Cordon Caulle, but that the decline ‘is not conclusive’. Evacuated residents have been allowed to return briefly to their properties to feed livestock and pets in the region surrounding the volcano, 560 miles south of the capital Santiago. Mr Galilea said farmers have stored fodder to feed their animals and authorities were standing by to help them if they ran out. The Cardenal Samore pass linking Chile and Argentina has been closed since the eruption began on Saturday. It is likely to take two days to clear away the ash and snow blocking it. –Mail UK

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