The Chaparrastique volcano in eastern El Salvador has belched a column of hot ash high into the air, frightening nearby residents and prompting authorities to order evacuations in the area.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in the San Miguel region, where the volcano is located, about 140 kilometres to the east of the capital, San Salvador.
Civil protection authorities said they would evacuate people from within three kilometres of the volcano and set up emergency shelters.
“The evacuations began almost right after the explosion,” civil protection official Armando Vividor said.
He said around 5,000 people lived around the volcano, in a region known for its coffee plantations.
The volcano spewed ash over a wide area and the smell of sulfur hung over surrounding towns, according to reports on social media.
Authorities recommended breathing through moist handkerchiefs.
Santos Osorio, a member of a local coffee growers union, said heavy ash was falling in the area and local coffee plantations would be checked for damage.
El Salvador's crop has already been blighted by an outbreak of leaf rust that has reduced output in all five of Central America`s coffee producers.
The international airport in San Salvador, the capital, redirected some flights to other airports, including in Guatemala, to avoid the ash.
Avianca airlines announced Sunday night that it had canceled 33 flights scheduled to arrive and depart from El Salvador as a precautionary measure due to the ash cloud. Iberia and United
Airlines also canceled flights that had been scheduled to arrive in San Salvador Sunday night.
This is the first eruption of Chaparrastique in 37 years.
El Salvador has 23 active volcanoes and the Chaparrastique volcano is considered one of the most active, with 26 eruptions in the last 500 years, the environment ministry said.
In a 1976 eruption, lava gushed from the volcano and it shook violently in another event in 2010.