Flooding, landslides reported throughout the sierra; Growing Sangay volcanic activity could mean major eruption; 230,000 seniors registered for vaccines

Mar 18, 2021 | 3 comments

The Geophysical Institute reports that the Sangay volcano is entering a period of heightened activity that could mean increasing ashall in surrounding areas or a major eruption. The institute says that the volcano is showing “structural deformations” that indicate movement of magna within the mountain.

Geologists report growing activity at the Sangay volcano and “structural deformations” on the mountain’s flanks.

In the short term, the institute says that ash and gas emissions could intensify with lava flows posing a danger of river and stream blockages. “Communities to the west of Sangay, including Riobamba, Ambato, Guayaquil and Manta, should be prepared for potentially heavy ashfall in the coming weeks,” a bulletin said. “Agricultural interests should also be on alert for crop and livestock damage.”

Geologists say a major eruption, similar to the ones in 1628 and 1934 is possible. In the 1628 eruption, lava flows affected hundreds of square kilometers and covered Riobamba in six feet of ash. They say a catastrophic eruption, such as the one that occurred about 50,000 years ago is “extremely unlikely” but cannot be ruled out entirely.

The institute says it is closely monitoring the enlargement of “structural bulges” on the flanks of the volcano.

Heavy rains, flooding and landslides plague the inter-mountain valley
The Rio Malacatos overflowed its canal in downtown Loja on Wednesday, sending knee-deep water through streets and into homes and businesses. The result of heavy rainfall in the area, the flooding stalled vehicles in streets near the river and prompted the city to declare a state of emergency.

Water ran through the streets of Loja on Wednesday.

Quito, Ambato and Riobamba also reported intense rains and hail that snarled traffic and flooded some businesses. Lightning strikes caused two fires in Quito and damaged several radio and cell phone towers. In Quito and Ambato, hail accumulations were half a meter deep in some low-lying areas.

Intermittent road closures continue around Cuenca, with roadways continuing to be blocked periodically by mud- and rockslides. On Wednesday night, the regional transportation office said that highways to Guayaquil through the Cajas Mountains, to Machala and to Riobamba were “partially” open but subject to new closures. The highway to Loja was reopened Wednesday afternoon following the clearance of a large landslide that occurred Tuesday.

230,000 seniors signed up for Covid vaccines
Despite problems with a government website, presidential secretary Jorge Wated said Wednesday that 230,000 older adults have been registered to receive Covid-19 vaccines. Only 8,000 residents over the age of 65 were signed up through the website, he said, citing continuing capacity and software difficulties, while more than 220,000 were registered automatically through membership in the IESS and MIES programs.

Wated and President Lenin Moreno say that all residents over the age of 65 will be vaccinated by the end of May.

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