Ecuador is recruiting foreign help in case of a volcanic eruption or El Niño; other countries say they stand ready to provide advice and assistance

Sep 2, 2015 | 13 comments

Ecuador is looking for a little help from its friends.

Representatives of the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs are meeting with foreign ambassadors to solicit assistance in case of natural disasters, particularly a possible eruption of the Cotopaxi volcano and an El Niño that appears to be is forming in the Pacific Ocean.

The Cotopaxi volcano as seen last week from Quito. It's still smokin'.

The Cotopaxi volcano as seen last week from Quito. It’s still smokin’. Photo credit: Henry Leduc

The ministry’s security coordinator, Cesár Navas, says the requests are a precautionary step at this time but that Ecuador may need international assistance in a worst case scenario.

“Many countries have experience in what we may encounter in Ecuador,” Navas says. “What they have learned in dealing with natural disasters could be very important to us.”

He says his office also want line up commitments for supply shipments if the need arises. “It is possible we will need things like generators, water purification equipment, shelter supplies and safety kits,” he said.

Other countries say they are willing to help. Italian ambassador Gianni Piccato, whose country has experienced volcanic eruptions and large earthquakes, says the Italian people are ready to help. “We understand what is required to recover from these disasters and we will offer our assistance,” he said.

The embassies of Peru, Chile, and France also said they are willing to step forward. French Ambassador Fabien Muoury says he feels that France has an obligation because of the French nationals living in Ecuador. “There are 2,000 French citizens living here about 25,000 others come every year as tourists, so we are more than ready to help,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute reports that the level of volcanic activity at Cotopaxi remains high and that ash plumes continue to drift to the west. Because of higher winds on Tuesday, the plumes did not rise more than a kilometer into the atmosphere, keeping ash fall in areas closer to the volcano.

The Institute continues to warn residents close to the volcano to maintain close contact with its reports and to be prepared to evacuate if conditions worsen.

In addition to evacuation preparations, risk management personnel are focusing on maintaining sources of clean drinking water in case of an eruption. They say that Quito could lose access to its municipal water sources located south of Cotopaxi and are considering reopening wells closer to the city that have been capped.

Local officials in the Los Chillos Valley, southeast of Quito, are also examining their drinking water options in the case an eruption covers current sources. The Los Chillos area has a population of more than 200,000.

 

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