Ecuador has declared a state of emergency Saturday against the clock Cotopaxi volcano near Quito and considered one of the most dangerous in the world, making evacuate several communities threatened by a possible eruption.
Located 45 km south of the capital Quito, in the center of the country, the volcano perched at 5,897 meters above sea level has been rocked by numerous explosions Friday, releasing a large column of ash up to 8 km in height.
Saturday again, the volcano ejected a column of ash up to 5 km above the crater.
He also expelled strong and incandescent fragments, according to the authorities, can cause avalanches.
“Four hundred people were evacuated preventively” the area around the volcano, in the provinces of Cotopaxi and Pichincha, said Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa during his weekly address to the Ecuadorian radio and TV.
Ecuadorian President said it had declared a “state of exception”, which allows to “use all resources wherever they are, apart from those of education, to respond to a potential emergency and mobilize resources “he said.
Under it, the government can also deploy military personnel to help rescue teams, but also control the information published on the activity of the Cotopaxi.
This “preventive censorship” seeks to “avoid rumors launched by some on Twitter unbalanced” creating panic, says the text of the decree. The only authorized information on the activity of the volcano now come from the Minister of National Security, Cesar Navas.
The Geophysical Institute (IG) was keen to stress that the volcano did not cause lahar (volcanic mudflows, note) but that water flows of mud had been recorded.
The volcano – one of eight assets in Ecuador – has not experienced a real eruption since 1877. Moderately active since then, he is considered by scientists from the GI as one of the most dangerous in the world due to the This large amount of snow at the top, and people living nearby.
These are actually exposed to these powerful mudflows that can destroy everything in their path: very dense and very heavy, they are formed by the melting of ice and snow due to heat rash .
In addition, operations were suspended in Latacunga airport, located at the foot of the volcano, which is mainly used for cargo, said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
In the evening, many residents of the town of Lasso who, alarmed by radio and police, took refuge in a school, returned them, said a journalist from AFP.
“We bring a few things to go as soon as they tell us so. But we do not feel ready “to deal with a major emergency, testified Fernanda Mejia.
Not far away, the 170,000 inhabitants of Latacunga, capital of Cotopaxi province, also prepared for the worst by purchasing water bottles and staples out of town or otherwise take refuge with them.
The day before, a group of 15 mountaineers wishing to climb the volcano had been prevented after the closure of access to the site by the Ministry of Environment.