A chain of volcanoes has erupted in southern Chile, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents, according to the BBC. Large columns of smoke have been rising from the Puyehue-Cordon-Caulle volcano range, about 800km south of the capital Santiago. Witnesses also reported a strong smell of ash and sulphur. A dozen small earthquakes were recorded before the eruption began. The officials have issued a red alert – the maximum warning level for the area. Evacuation orders were issued for some 3,500 people, the local authorities said.