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Residents evacuated as Nicaragua volcano spews ash cloud

Some 300 families living on the flanks of the highest volcano in Nicaragua have been advised to leave after it began spewing hot gas and ash. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

Nicaragua's tallest volcano has belched an ash cloud hundreds of feet into the sky in its latest bout of sporadic activity, prompting the evacuation of nearby residents, the government said on Wednesday.

The 5,725-foot San Cristobal volcano, which sits less than 100 miles north of the capital, Managua, in the country's northwest, has been active in recent years and went through a similar episode in September.

The latest activity began late Tuesday.

Government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo called on residents who live within a two-mile radius of the volcano to leave the area. About 300 families live near the volcano.

"We have some families who have self-evacuated. ... We ask (the people) to go to a safe place. It's just for a few days during this emergency," she said, adding that it was a precautionary measure.

A billowing grayish cloud could be seen drifting sideways from the volcano's peak.

The volcano also stirred in mid-2008, when it expelled gas and rumbled with a series of small eruptions.

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