Ready To Blow

Hazard level upped at Mount St. Helens; hundreds evacuated

Scientists are keeping a watchful eye on Mount St. Helens today. Government officials warn that a major eruption will probably happen soon. Scientists, however, expect the blast will be much smaller than the 1980 explosion that killed 57 people.

The volcano alert of Mount St. Helens stands at Level Three.

The US Geological Survey says that means an eruption is imminent or is in progress. Hundreds of visitors at the volcano's observatory were asked to leave yesterday.

The US Interior Secretary says the "greatest concern at this point" is an ash plume and the spread of ash from an explosion. Gale Norton says this could threaten airplanes flying near the mountain. Few people live near Mount St. Helens.