Costa Rica volcano spews ash, prompts evacuations

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - The Turrialba volcano's largest eruption in over a century rained ash over parts of central Costa Rica and prompted the evacuation of some nearby communities, authorities said Thursday.

Volcanologist Gino Gonzalez of the Central American country's National Seismological Network said after visiting the volcano's rim that the overnight blast caused the side of the crater to collapse.

Ash fall was observed in four provinces, and scientists were analyzing its content to determine whether the eruption could be a precursor to lava emission.

"We are maintaining 24/7 vigilance at our seismic stations," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said the volcano began rumbling and producing seismic activity the previous evening. He called it the biggest explosion recorded at Turrialba in at least 100 years.

Turrialba is about 44 miles (71 kilometers) east of the capital, San Jose.

A yellow alert was declared for communities near the volcano, which were evacuated. Agriculture Ministry officials were attending to some 400 head of cattle in areas where ash fell.

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