On May 2, 2008, Volcán Chaitén, at the foot of which nestles its namesake town, erupted for the first time in over nine thousand years, taking the local residents completely by surprise, as the volcano was thought to be dormant. The town, and much of the surrounding area, had to be evacuated as the 19-mile (30km) plume of ash and steam from the volcano affected the local water sources. Worse was to come when the a mudslide caused floods which devastated the town. While the Bachelet government ordered the the town to be abandoned, the Piñera administration subsequently reversed the decision and, with vital services now reinstated, Chaitén is once again connected to Puerto Montt and other destinations along the Carretera Austral by frequent boat and bus.

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