Chile ordered hold-out residents to flee from an erupting volcano in the remote region of Patagonia and vowed to remove them by force if they refuse to obey.
MORE INFO: The surprise eruption of the long dormant 3,280-foot (1,000-meter) Chaiten volcano has forced the evacuation within a 30-mile (50-km) radius of the volcano, including more than 4,500 residents of Chaiten six miles from it
Fiery flashes from a volcano crater light up the night sky in Chaitan, Chile ...
...followed instantly by the sound of alarms---urging residents in this remote Patagonian region to evacuate immediately
Thousands have already left, but some like the Mendez family have held out---undeterred by the ashes and the smell of sulfur from the volcano.
But not for long.
The Chilean government has vowed to use force if residents within a 30 mile radius of the volcano refuse to evacuate.
The Mendez family will soon join their neighbors in the town of Puerto Montt, a safe 125 miles away from the volcano.
At the town's local soccer stadium, evacuees receive aid and shelter.
But no one knows when they'll see Chaiten again.
The government is considering relocating these residents permanently and many like Marco Fernandez are worried they will lose everything they struggled to build in Chaiten
SOUNDBITE:Chaiten refugee, Marco Fernandez, saying, (Spanish):
"What us men at least are going to need is work. And I think that if we can't go back to our homes in Chaiten, why don't they just tell us? Because if Chaiten disappears how are we going to live? This is the only stuff we managed to bring out."
But Fernandez will have to wait for an answer.
Officials arent sure when the evacuees can return , but they say it could be weeks, even months, before its safe to go back to these ash covered towns.
The Chaiten volcano, dormant for thousands of years, erupted almost a week ago and experts now believe the volcano could rumble on for years.
Pavithra George, Reuters
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