SANTIAGO, Chile – The Chaiten volcano poured out gas and ash for a sixth day on Wednesday as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet promised support for thousands of people forced to flee their homes.
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Rodrigo Rojas, planning director at the government's Emergency Bureau, said the volcano's plume was smaller than on the previous day, when it rose about 20 miles.
The government ordered the complete evacuation of the region around the volcano on Tuesday, including more than 4,000 people from the town of Chaiten and several small settlements.
About 1,400 more fled Futaleufu, a city farther away but still covered by a thick carpet of ash.
Bachelet promised that the volcano's victims "will have a better future" and assigned Chile's defense minister to coordinate the effort.
She also said the government is trying to rescue thousands of livestock, and owners will be compensated for animals that die.
The rain of ash fell over 50,000 acres, and agricultural recovery there could take years, said University of Chile geologist Juan Pablo Fuentes-Espoza.
The Environment Ministry said tests revealed no evidence of volcanic pollution in several rivers, but the air contains sulfur.