( AP ) - A volcano in southern Chile erupted on Tuesday, spewing lava and ash, and forcing the evacuation of about 150 people, officials said.
Authorities declared an "early alert" around the Llaima volcano, readying police and firefighters in case further evacuations were needed, Chile's Emergency Bureau said in a communique.
A column of smoke rose more than 9,300 feet into the sky and television images showed thick smoke and lava emerging from Llaima, one of the most active of the dozens of volcanos in Chile.
Emergency bureau director Carmen Fernandez said 150 tourists and National Forest Service employees were evacuated from the Conguillio National Park where the volcano is located, 400 miles south of Santiago.
If necessary, residents would also be evacuated from Melipeuco, a town of at least 5,000 located 8 miles from the volcano, officials said.
Bureau officials and vulcanologists were flying over the volcano to monitor the situation.
The 9,400-foot volcano last erupted in May, but has not suffered a major blast since 1994.