Mexico volcano ash forces shutdown of airport

A volcano in Mexico, El Popocatepetl, erupted spewing enough ash Thursday to close the Puebla airport.

An ash cloud from a Mexican volcano on Thursday forced the suspension of flights to and from the international airport of Puebla, a major city southeast of Mexico City.

The government of Puebla state, of which the city is the capital, said local authorities had ordered the airport to close and would review the situation again around midday.

Mexico last month raised the alert level for the volcano Popocatepetl, which lies some 50 miles (80 km) southeast of the capital, after it began pumping out red-hot fragments of rock and ash.

IN PICTURES: Pardon the eruption, volcanoes around the world

The volcano, known as "El Popo," last had a major eruption on Dec. 18, 2000, which prompted the evacuation of thousands of people who live near the base of the volcano. It has been erupting intermittently since 1994.

In recent weeks, the country has been closely monitoring the 5,450 meter (17,900 foot) volcano, which has prompted school classes in nearby villages to be suspended on days of higher activity.

The airport in Puebla also closed for several hours late on Tuesday due to the concentration of ash billowing out of Popocatepetl.

German carmaker Volkswagen's Mexican operations are based in Puebla. (Editing by Paul Simao)

IN PICTURES: Pardon the eruption, volcanoes around the world

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