Ecuador’s Mount Tungurhaua Volcano Erupts in Fiery Display.

November 29, 2011 – Ecuador’s Mount Tungurhaua Volcano Erupts in Fiery Display: 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 7:35AM local time on Monday; November 28, 2011. Its loud roars have reportedly shook residential windows up to 14 kilometers (8.6 miles) away. Previously, at around 2AM 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 Mount Tungurahua continued its strong seismic activity throughout Monday and spewed out thick ash clouds of up to 3 kilometers (1.8 miles or 9,504 feet) 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, Ecuador, the nation’s capital. Its eruptive phases began in 1999 and, since then, it has experienced both calm and highly active periods.

On August 17, 2006; Mount Tungurhaua erupted, in Ecuador’s Andes Mountains, and completely obliterated three villages.

Several bodies were recovered after the overnight eruption of lava from Tungurahua, in the country’s high Andes, and many more were believed to be under the rubble, Penipe Mayor Juan Salazar said. Salazar told Channel 4 television that the villages of Chilibu, Choglontuz and Palitagua “no longer exist. Everything is wiped out.” (This was from the August 17, 2006 eruption).

“This is an indescribable catastrophe,” Salazar said. “The houses have collapsed. The rocks that fell on the surrounding area caused injuries and burns in the city of Riobamba and in Penipe.”

Salazar said there were 60 other people on the high flanks of the volcano whom officials could not get to Thursday morning.

Choglontuz, Penipe and another village were ordered evacuated on Wednesday hours before the 16,575 foot volcano unleashed gas and ash some 5 miles (26,400 feet) into the sky, according to a report by Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute.

Salazar said 3,200 people were evacuated Wednesday from the three communities. He did not say how many remained in the villages.

Dr. Hernan Ayala stated that about 50 people from Penipe were treated at a medical center in Riobamba for burns caused by “lava flows and incandescent rocks that burned them as they tried to flee.”

“They were also burned by vapor and the elevated heat in the zone. It was a scene of chaos, a Dantesque situation,” he said.

The deaths reported Thursday was the first reported from a Tungurahua eruption since the volcano rumbled back to life in 1999 after staying dormant for eight decades (80 years).

The Master of Disaster

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