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Daily Archives: April 7, 2009

Volcano’ eruption renews concerns

Chile's Llaima volcano spewed lava and belched ash into the sky, prompting the evacuation of dozens of people and renewing concerns of a major eruption in one of the world's volcanic hotspots.
Seventy-one people were evacuated "because of risk from volcanic activity that have increased the volume of the Calbuco river and other waterways and swollen them with volcanic ash," the State National Emergency Office (ONEMI) said in a statement.
Five localities were put on red alert including Vilcun and Curacautin, where evacuations had begun after Llaima, one of the most active of Chile's 500 active volcanoes, began churning up lava and ash late Friday.
Military and police reinforcements were sent to the region, where the Conguillio national park was shut Saturday following LLaima's most significant activity since it erupted in January 2008.
"During the night, the volcano maintained its activity with explosions, lava flows, and expulsions of gas and ash," ONEMI said.
Acting Interior Minister Patricio Rosende, who arrived in the region Sunday to meet with emergency personnel and visit affected areas, described the conditions near the volcano as "uncertain" and ordered prompt evacuations if necessary.
The 3,125-meter (10,312-foot) Llaima is 700 kilometers (435 miles) south of the Chilean capital Santiago and just a few kilometers (miles) west of the Argentina border.
The Chaiten volcano – some 500 kilometers (310 miles) further south along Chile's volcanic ridge that forms part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" – erupted last May for the first time in thousands of years, virtually destroying the town of the same name, forcing the evacuation of its 4,000 inhabitants and spewing ash across southern Chile and Argentina.
The Chaiten volcano rumbled back into activity in February, threatening to devastate the area with new pyroclastic flows.
That volcano's new eruptions came only days after the government said it would not rebuild Chaiten in the same location, despite protests from its inhabitants.

Slovakia president wins re-election

BRATISLAVA (AFP) – – Slovakia's President Ivan Gasparovic was re-elected to a second term in office after defeating the first woman to reach a runoff vote, according to official results in Bratislava.
Gasparovic won 55.5 percent of the vote in Saturday's election while opposition candidate Iveta Radicova took 44.5 percent, official results published by the national election committee showed.
Despite her defeat, Radicova and her opposition allies were given a boost by her historic presidential bid ahead of general elections next year, analysts said.
"The election left Ivan Gasparovic and (senior coalition) Smer party as winners but it's also a big personal victory for Iveta Radicova," Ivan Dianiska of the Focus polling agency said.
"It's also a partial victory for the opposition that might reach, under certain circumstances, a better result in the upcoming general election," he said.
Pavol Haulik, a sociologist with the MVK polling agency, said Gasparovic won because "he didn't make any enemies during his first term."
"He had a very good starting position together with the support of coalition parties," he said.
During the campaign, Gasparovic was backed by two of the three governing coalition parties, while Radicova had the support of three opposition parties – the Christian Democrats, the conservative KDH and ethnic-Hungarian SMK party.
"The Slovak citizens respect me and I didn't disappoint them – that's what decided the election," said Gasparovic, who had campaign as a force of stability and continuity amid the global economic crisis.
Slovakia's economy, largely dependent on exports of cars and electronic goods produced mostly by foreign manufacturers, is forecast to contract this year after growing by 10.4 percent in 2007 and 6.4 percent in 2008.
Radicova, a 52-year-old Christian Democrat lawmaker, conceded defeat and congratulated Gasparovic.
But the former labour, social affairs and family minister let it be understood she would stay in the political arena.
"Almost one million votes – I view the support of so many people as a challenge, as a responsibility, as a new beginning," she said.
Political analysts had said that a good showing by Radicova in the runoff could put her on track to replace former prime minister and Christian Democrat SDKU party chairman Mikulas Dzurinda as the opposition leader in the 2010 elections.
Gasparovic, a veteran political figure, won the first round of election with 46.7 percent of the votes cast, but the turnout of 44 percent was too low to allow him an outright victory.
More than 51 percent of the four million registered voters cast ballots in the runoff.
The role of the president is mostly ceremonial in this parliamentary democracy that was established in 1993 after the fall of communism and the breakup of Czechoslovakia.
Gasparovic was first elected in 2004 when he beat the former authoritarian prime minister Vladimir Meciar.