El Salvador's Chaparrastique volcano erupts for first time in 37 years (VIDEO)

(CNN) -- Thousands of residents in El Salvador were evacuated after the Chaparrastique volcano erupted Sunday morning.

The Department of Civil Protection declared a yellow alert in the country and an orange alert in the department of San Miguel, where the volcano is located in southern El Salvador.

According to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the eruption began at 10:30 a.m. local time and produced a column of gas and ash approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) high.

The network of local observers residing in the area reported ash fall to the west in the direction of the wind.

Video for mobile users: http://bit.ly/Kfoty7

Residents nearby were advised to take precautionary measures, such as evacuating on their own and not approaching the area.

The international airport in San Salvador, the capital, redirected some flights to other airports, including in Guatemala, to avoid the ash.

This is the first eruption of Chaparrastique in 37 years.

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