The government announced Tuesday that it will assume management of planning and the training emergency personnel in an region west of the Cotopaxi volcano.
The move comes after Cesar Navas, national coordinator for Cotopaxi emergency planning, talked to local officials in the areas most vulnerable to an eruption, to the west of the volcanco. On Sunday, Navas had heard complaints from residents who said they had been given no information about what to do in the event of an eruption.
“We will work directly with local governments to develop emergency plans and communicate with the population what they need to know in case of an eruption,” Navas said.
Latacunga and adjacent cantons west of the volcano, have been identified as the area of greatest concern. In addition to the city of Lataunga, the towns of Colcas, Churopinto, El Caspi, San Agustín, Ticatilín, Rumipamba and Callo Mancheno will receive direct intervention from the Ministry of Security and Risk Management. In the last large eruption of Cotopaxi, in 1877, the entire area was subject to pyroclastic flows and lahars. All residents living in the area at the time were killed and all structures were destroyed.
In the Los Chillos valley, a populated suburban area north of Cotopaxi, planning for a possible eruption has been accelerated following Quito Mayor Maurico Rodas’ declaration of a state of emergency. Like the Latacunga region, Los Chillos is an outflow area for Cotopaxi rivers and streams and is vulnerable to lahars if there is an eruption.
Overnight, the Geophysical Institute said that activity at Cotopaxi remained steady, showing no increase. It reported that small amounts of ash continued to fall in areas west of the volcano but amounts were lessening from early Tuesday. It said that the ash fall did not pose a health risk.
Nava participated with Institute staff in an overflight of Cotopaxi. The mission produced dramatic pictures of the volcano because of clear weather.