Amazing pics! Volcano erupts in Chile

Ruth Doherty

Flames and lightning flashes mix in with a huge ash cloud as a Chilean volcano erupted for the first time in 50 years.

Ash has been thrown six miles into the sky and the South American government has ordered the evacuation of 3,500 of its residents.

Winds have fanned the ash towards neighbouring Argentina, darkening the sky in the ski and tourist resort of San Carlos de Bariloche, and closing its airport.

The eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, about 575 miles south of the capital, Santiago, also prompted authorities to close a busy border crossing into Argentina.

The dramatic lightning is thought to come from inside the volcanic cloud of debris.

Scientists are unsure how exactly it is created - but they believe it could be the result of particles rubbing together like they do in normal thunderstorms to build up friction and electric charges.

The explosion has also left streets covered in inches of grey powder.

Nearly a dozen small earthquakes were recorded before the eruption on Saturday - the first in this range of volcanoes since the 1960s.

The country has the second-largest chain of volcanoes in the world after Indonesia, with nearly 2,000 across the country.

Almost 60 have erupted in modern times and 500 are potentially active.

See all the dramatic pics below: