Mexico volcano spews ash and gas 5 km above crater after erupting in April 2016

Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano surprised observers with a startling sight Friday: a massive column of ash billowing in the air, reports CNN.

An explosion sent steam, gas and ash 5 km above the volcano's crater, officials said. Luis Felipe Puente, Mexico's director of civil protection, shared photos and videos on social media of the plume spreading through the sky.

Authorities warned people to stay away from the volcano, particularly its crater. It's likely ash will fall in nearby towns, officials said. Already, ash has fallen in two municipalities in Puebla state, Felipe said.

The volcano erupted in April, spewing smoke, ash and lava.

Popocatépetl is one of an estimated 1,500 potentially active volcanoes.

The volcano, which is located about 70 km southeast of Mexico City, had been dormant for decades until its eruption in 1994. Since then, its rumblings have become a party of daily life for are residents.

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