Nicaragua volcano awakens, 3,000 to be evacuated (VIDEO)

The Nicaraguan government plans on evacuating some 3,000 people from areas around Nicaragua’s San Cristobal volcano as it spewed out a column of ash and gas 5 km high into the air.

­Three powerful explosions emitting from the volcano were heard by residents in nearby villages on Saturday.

"This activity could affect some 500 families totaling 3,000 people, so we decided to evacuate them," said Guillermo Gonzalez, executive director of the government's disaster agency. Nicaragua's geological institute confirmed it had detected "strong activity" coming from the epicenter.

The plume formed a cloud extending 48 km from the 1,745-meter San Cristobal volcano. The volcano is about 154 km north of the capital, Managua.

The Nicaraguan Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER) recommended that the air space around San Cristobal be closed due to the size of the plume.

Ineter also warned that "more gas emissions and sporadic explosions" could be expected from San Cristobal, one of the most active volcanoes along Nicaragua’s Pacific coast.