Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tungurahua volcano cost six lives so far...

The official death toll in the eruption of Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano was raised Sunday to six, local authorities said.

The mountain erupted Wednesday, leaving seven nearby villages damaged or destroyed. The number of people missing has risen to 60.

An estimated 4,000 people have been forced to flee to emergency shelters.

Ecuadorean officials and private relief agencies estimate that up to 20,000 people will need financial and material assistance because of disruption to their agricultural livelihoods. Thick layers of ash have blanketed the area around Tungurahua, which has an altitude of 5,023 metres at its peak in the Andean Cordillera Central of central Ecuador.

The central government has issued disaster declarations for at least three provinces.

Tungurahua, nicknamed the Black Giant by locals, lies about 140 kilometres south of the capital Quito and has been intermittently active since 1999 after a long dormant period.

Geologists have warned that further eruptions are possible.

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