Ecuadorian Volcano Explodes

Thousands flee as Andean 'throat of fire' blasts ash
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2008 3:43 AM CST
The Tungurahua volcano erupts near Cotalo village in Ecuador's Tungurahua province, early Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – The massive Tungurahua volcano in the Ecuadoran Andes erupted in smoke and fire yesterday, forcing thousands of villagers to flee. Eleven families who refused to leave the area were removed by force as the volcano shot columns of ash six miles into the air, AP reports. Tungurahua—meaning "throat of fire" in the Quechua language—buried entire villages in a 2006 eruption.

Thousands of acres of farmland near the base of the volcano 95 miles southeast of Quito have already been buried in ash  A state of emergency has been declared in the surrounding provinces and Ecuador's army has moved in to prevent looting. The nearby tourist town of Banos is not thought to be in imminent danger, but geophysicists think Tungurahua could just be getting started. "The volcano has entered a new explosive eruption cycle, which does not seem to be slowing down," an expert said.