Mexico eyes Popocatepetl volcano constantly

Like doctors with a cranky, dangerous patient, Mexico’s volcano watchers notice every blink, breath, sneeze and cough of Popocatepetl.

Mexico watches Popocatepetl volcano: Popocatepetl spews ash and vapor July 9 behind San Damian Texoloc, Mexico.

Mexico watches Popocatepetl volcano: Popocatepetl spews ash and vapor July 9 behind San Damian Texoloc, Mexico.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — In a clean, hushed room in the south of Mexico City, cameras, computer screens and scrawling needles track the symptoms of a special patient, as they have every second of every day for the past two decades. The monitors indicate that “Don Goyo” is breathing normally, even as he spews hot rock, steam and ash.

That kind of activity isn’t unusual for the 17,886-foot volcano, Mexico’s second-highest, whose formal name is Popocatepetl, or “Smoking Mountain” in the Aztec language Nahuatl. But this volcano, personified first as a warrior in Aztec legend and now as an old man grumbling with discontent, is in the middle of two metro areas, where his every spurt can put 20 million people on edge.

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Mexico’s Popocatepetl Volcano Spews Ash, U.S. Airlines Cancel Flights

Mexico's Popocatepetl Volcano Ash

Lava flows from the Popocatepetl volcano after an eruption, seen from Tlamacas, Mexico, early Wednesday, May 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Arturo Andrade)

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MEXICO CITY — At least six U.S. airlines canceled 47 flights into and out of the Mexico City and Toluca airports Thursday after the Popocatepetl volcano spewed ash, steam and glowing rocks, airport officials said.

Mexico City airport spokesman Jorge Gomez said U.S. Airways, Delta, United, American and Alaska Airlines canceled the flights as a precaution. But he said the airport otherwise continues to operate normally and that by Thursday afternoon no ash had reached the area, about 40 miles (70 kilometers) northwest from the volcano.

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Mexican volcano explodes sending column of ash into the sky

The 5,400-metre Popocatepetl volcano erupts spewing a plume of ash almost four kilometres high.

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Lying just 37 miles southeast of Mexico city and its 18 million inhabitants it remains to be seen how the ash cloud will effect the capital.

Popocatepetl is one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

It has had more than 15 major eruptions since the arrival of the Spanish in 1519.