Chile Volcano Causes Major Problems

The Argentine lake district is usually a picture-perfect destination popular with tourists.

At this time of year on Monday (June 20) the hills should be bright green and the lakes aqua blue.

But a volcano in Chile has blanketed the area in depressing grey, clogging waterways and transport routes with ash.

Volcanic rocks spewed from the crater occasionally wash up on the shoreline of this lake outside the town of Villa La Angostura.

Many homes that have been blanketed in ash are hidden away in isolated pockets of Argentina's countryside.

At one such home in the area of Port Bandurrias, however, help has finally arrived.

The roads opened here on Sunday and psychologists have been sent by the national government to visit families in the area.

Jorgelina and Andres are the proud parents of two children, the youngest just 18 months old.

They have decided to stay at home even though authorities have warned the ash cloud could continue for months.

"I think I am going to stay. I don't see any reason to run away. I think it is a moment to confront the problem and learn. There is a reason this happened to us, but I don't know why," 27-year-old Jorgelina, who chose not to give her surname, said. Her family has lived in the area for eight years.

Supports hold up the roof in case it buckles under the weight of the ash, as the family's children play below.

Electricity has been cut off and they are relying on bottled water for now.

"In cases such as this - in disasters - the majority of people's symptoms, such as anxiety, stress, tension, begin to disappear once the catastrophe comes to an end. It is a matter of managing everything in the moment," psychologist, Agustin Pascuale, said.

Surrounded by woods, these areas have been cut off from civilization for weeks - even since the volcano exploded on June 4.

Roads have been blocked by either mounds of ash or trees felled by the weight of their laden branches.

All towns in the area are working to recover from the fallout however.

Sick and tired of trudging through ash all day, residents of Bariloche took to the streets with their shovels in a mass clean-up exercise on Monday (June 20).

On the other side of the border in Chile, evacuated residents have already begun returning home but in Bariloche it had seemed there was no escape from the mounds of ash suffocating the town - council workers unable to clear it all on their own.

The giant clean-up was organized by a local NGO and left the ski town's streets sparkling - ready to receive the first wave of tourists arriving for the southern hemisphere's ski season.

Some 2,500 people decided to make good use of a public holiday in Argentina to participate.

"We've had to deal with a surprise and we have responded. Everyone cleans their own houses, roofs, gardens and now we have come out to clean our big home: our town," said one local resident, clutching onto his son.

The volcano has caused air traffic chaos around the globe, from Argentina to Australia.

Chilean volcanoes tend to spew more ash than European volcanoes like Iceland's, because the magma is thicker and rises more slowly.

As a result more ash is expelled.


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