Chileans brace for volcano impact on livestock, agriculture and fishing industries

  • The Week That Was in Latin America and The Caribbean Photo Gallery-1.jpg

    In this Wednesday, April 22, 2015 photo, the Calbuco volcano erupts near Puerto Varas, Chile. The Calbuco volcano erupted for the first time in more than 42 years, billowing a huge ash cloud over a sparsely populated, mountainous area in southern Chile. Authorities ordered the evacuation of the 1,500 inhabitants of the nearby town of Ensenada, along with residents of two smaller communities.(AP Photo/Diego Main/Aton Chile) CHILE OUT – NO USAR EN CHILE (The Associated Press)

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    A horse stands on a farm covered in volcanic ash after the eruption of the Calbuco volcano in Puerto Varas, Chile, Friday, April 24, 2015. The volcano, which had been dormant for more than four decades, had two huge eruptions this week that sent ash across large swaths of southern South America. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo) (The Associated Press)

The eruption of Chile’s Calbuco volcano threatens to cause widespread, lasting economic damage, turning cattle pastures barren and choking fish with volcanic ash in one of the world’s top salmon-producing countries.

Ema Budinich of the National Agriculture Society said Tuesday that the eruption is forcing the evacuation of thousands of cattle and sheep at risk of dying in Los Lagos. The region produced about 950 million liters of milk last year worth about $346 million.

Official estimates are not available yet, but Eduardo Aguilera of the National Fishing Service says about 20 million fish have died.

Calbuco erupted Wednesday, billowing ash about 11 miles (18 kilometers) high, followed hours later by a second, spectacular outburst. Some 4,500 people have been evacuated.

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