Saturday, February 09, 2008

Fatal eruption in Ecuador

At least five people died when the Tungurahua volcano erupted in Ecuador, according to local media reports.

The 5,023-metre colossus, 130 km southeast of the capital, threw lava, boulders and clouds of ash into the air the whole of Wednesday.

Five nearby villages were heavily damaged and 1,450 people were evacuated, the El Universo newspaper reported Wednesday evening.

President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency in the region, and the clouds of ash had damaged 20,000 hectares of farmland.

Hugo Yepez, director of the Geophysics Institute of Ecuador, warned of a major eruption of the volcano, which has been actively spewing ash, rock and lava since early January. After lying dormant for years, Tungurahua has been active since 1999.

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