MEXICO CITY (AP) -- The Popocatepetl volcano shot a heavy plume of ash into the sky southeast of Mexico's capital and spewed glowing rock from its crater at dawn on Friday.
Webcam images on the site of the National Disaster Prevention Center showed the plume rising from the top of the 17,886-foot (5,450-meter) peak at dawn, though clouds obscured the volcano for people further away. The Televisa television network broadcast images of red, glowing material rising from the crater and falling on its slopes.
Authorities this week raised the alert level due to increasing activity at the volcano, whose most violent eruption in 1,200 years occurred on Dec. 18, 2000.
The coordinator general for civil protection, Laura Gurza, told Televisa that officials were not yet ready to order any evacuations, but urged people living near the mountain to be "very very attentive" to action at the volcano, which is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Mexico City. She also urged them to gather important papers and to have their escape routes planned in case they have to leave.
The ash was blowing to the northeast, in the general direction of the city of Puebla.