Ecuador urges villages near the Tungurahua volcano to evacuate

11/29/2011 20:33

WireUpdate:  QUITO, ECUADOR (BNO NEWS) -- Authorities in the South American nation of Ecuador on Monday afternoon urged residents near the Tungurahua volcano to evacuate after a rapid increase of volcanic activity.

Ecuador's Geophysical Institute of the National Technology School said the Tungurahua volcano had three pyroclastic boulder flows toward the south at around 7:35 a.m. local time on Monday. Its loud roars have reportedly shook residential windows up to 14 kilometers (8.6 miles) away.

Previously, at around 2 a.m. local time, the institute registered an explosion as incandescent material covered all of the volcano's slopes. Some three hours later, intense and moderately strong roars were also registered, accompanied with incandescent material, as well as lava blocks and fluid lava, descending about one kilometer (0.6 mile) down its crater.

The Institute warned that the 5,023-meter (16,480-feet) tall Tungurahua continued its strong seismic activity throughout Monday and spewed out thick ash clouds of up to 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) high into the northeastern, southeastern and eastern regions.

The Tungurahua Province Emergency Operation Committee subsequently raised its alert level from yellow to orange, immediately activating its emergency protocols. Officials have urged four villages nearby to evacuate in fear of a full eruption.

The Tungurahua volcano is located about 135 kilometers (84 miles) south of Quito, the nation's capital. Its eruptive phases began in 1999 and, since then, it has experienced both calm and highly active periods.

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