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Volcanic emissions turn Cuenca sky hazy

A haze covered Cuenca early Wednesday morning but improved later in the day.

Although many residents may not have noticed due to coronavirus shelter-in-place rules, volcanic ash and gas from the Sangay volcano turned the sky over Cuenca hazy Wednesday morning. On several occasions on Tuesday and Wednesday, the city’s air quality reached the moderately unhealthy range with a fine particulate count exceeding 100 parts per billion.

Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute said that winds from the northeast had sent the volcanic ash and gas over Cañar and Azuay Provinces. It said ashfall had been recorded in several locations in Cañar Province but only trace amounts have been recorded at ground level in Azuay or Cuenca.

By noon Wednesday, according to the institute, the wind direction had shifted to the west and air quality was improving. At 2 p.m., the fine particulate count had dropped to 50 at the University of Azuay air quality monitoring station.

The Sangay volcano has been continuously active since May 2019 and has experienced several intense eruptions requiring the relocation of residents at the base of the mountain.