The government of El Salvador has placed the country on alert and ordered for the area around the Chapparastique Volcano to be evacuated after the peak shot a cloud of hot ash about 3 miles in to the air.

Civil Defense Director Jorge Melendez said a yellow alert had been issued and investigators had been sent to the area to look for signs of fresh lava, but that none has been detected so far.

The 2,100 metre volcano last had a major eruption in 1976. Located 140 kilometres east of the capital San Salvador, about 5,000 people are estimated to live around the volcano. Civil Protection Authorities are evacuating a 3km zone around the volcano, and setting up emergency shelters.

Whilst there have been no immediate reports of injures, there are fears the ash spewed from the volcano could damage the region's coffee plantation*s, one of the country's most important exports.

Written and presented by Alfred Joyner