Volcano eruption in Chile spells danger for animals

Thursday, 15 May, 2008
Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts
The Chaiten volcano in Southern Chile has blasted ash some 20 miles into the atmosphere which has forced thousands to evacuate leaving both pets and farm animals vulnerable to the toxic cloud. IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) is headed to the volcano’s foothills to help animals in need.
According to media reports, farmers left behind about 40,000 head of livestock, and officials expressed fear that many of them could die. Local animal welfare groups are greatly concerned for thousands of companion and farm animals that have been left chained or abandoned with no food or water.
Nine days after the eruption of the giant volcano, the Chilean government has opened the access to the impacted area and will allow for animal rescues to take place in 30-minute intervals, a protocol aimed to ensure the safety of the rescue groups.
A coalition of animal welfare groups including IFAW, WSPA, HSUS and local CEFU (Coalicion por el Control Etico de la Fauna Urbana) are cooperating to evacuate and shelter thousands of vulnerable animals.
“We are looking forward to this collaboration between local and international NGO’s responding to the disaster in Chile. Our experience has found that every time groups get together, the action plan goes along in a smoother and more effective way,” said Dick Green, IFAW Emergency Relief Manager for Disasters.

Nearby town Futaleufu is under two inches of fallen ash from the volcano and local residents remain under threat of further volcanic activity or the perilous descent of more toxic ash.

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