Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ecuador volcano eruption cause 500 people to relocate permanently

About 500 people of the thousands evacuated by violent volcano eruptions last week will be permanently resettled elsewhere, officials said Tuesday.

A hundred families from the hamlet of Bilbao on the western slopes of the Tungurahua volcano will be relocated because they are unlikely to be able to return to their homes, said Juan Salazar, mayor of Penipe, one of more than half a dozen villages evacuated.

The 16,575-foot volcano, located 85 miles south of the capital, Quito, began erupting on Friday, spewing lava, ash and toxic gas. No injuries were reported, but the ash caked houses as well as fields and pastures.

“We have to identify a place where the state can buy property to settle 100 families, some 500 people who were living on the volcano's slopes,” Salazar said in a radio interview.

About 3,700 people fled their homes during the eruptions, and thousands more suffered damage to their homes and crops.

On Tuesday, President Alfredo Palacio visited the area with six Cabinet ministers, joining three others already there assessing the damage.

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