Erupting Volcano Surrounded by Lightning

I'd expect to see the image above if I were watching, say, Transformers 4, and I would remark on its unrealistic quality. Red skies with burning lightning and a massive volcanic plume? Please. But the scene near Puyehue volcano in southern Chile played out exactly like this Monday afternoon; 3500 residents were evacuated following earthquakes and falling ash earlier in the week.

Link | Image credit: AP Photo/Francisco Negroni, AgenciaUno

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Well, flying an airplane through volcanic ash generates an electric glow around the airplane and can cause engine failure. This phenomena is known as St. Elmo's Fire. Just speculation, but the plethora of electrical arcs in the photo may be the discharge conducted on the volcanic ash. I wonder if the ash makes it more likely that the stormcloud will discharge.
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