New top story from Time: Nicaragua’s San Cristobal Volcano Erupts and Showers City With Ash

(MANAGUA, Nicaragua) — Nicaragua’s San Cristobal volcano erupted Tuesday, showering the northwestern city of Chinandega in ash.

Video from the scene showed dramatically reduced visibility in Chinandega early Tuesday afternoon and the sound of cinders falling onto homes, cars and streets.

“I was having lunch at home when the great blast came out and the sky started to darken,” said lawyer Pablo Medina, who lives about 4 miles (7 kilometers) from Nicaragua’s tallest volcano. He said an intense odor of sulfur engulfed his home and ash coated everything.

“It was a rapid eruption, a single big explosion and then the volcano spent some 30 minutes spewing gases,” said writer Jorge Lenín Duarte, a cultural promoter in Chinandega.

Some businesses were forced to close as visibility was reduced to nearly zero. Hours later, residents were still cleaning up.

There has been lesser activity at the volcano recently, “but today’s explosion was something unusual, especially strong,” Duarte said.

The 1,745-meter (5,725-foot) volcano has been periodically active for years. It also emitted a significant ash plume on Feb. 14.

Vice President Rosario Murillo called on Nicaraguans to remain calm and said Tuesday’s activity was part of “usual eruptions.” She the government disaster agency would be monitoring the situation, but there was no mention of evacuations.

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