Volcano emergency plans examined as official says 325,000 could be at risk; new emission of ash and gas reported on Tuesday morning

Aug 18, 2015

As Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute continues to report high levels of activity at the Cotopaxi volcano, the government’s Ministry of Security and Risk Management says it is examining emergency plans of communities close to the volcano.

The clouds cleared for the first time in a week Monday, allowing a good look at Cotopaxi.

The clouds cleared for the first time in a week Monday, allowing a good look at Cotopaxi.

“We are looking at plans to make sure they are complete and adequate and that they protect the population,” security minister César Navas said on Monday. “We need to be certain that personnel managing the plans are properly trained and that the public knows what to do in the case of an eruption.”

When Navas toured vulnerable communities on Sunday, some residents told him that they had not received information about what do in an emergency. The review, he said Monday, is to make sure all residents know about emergency plans and are ready to follow them on short notice.

“The quality of these plans is critical as is the information that reaches the public. It can be a matter of life or death for many people,” he said.

In a briefing with reporters, Navas’ deputy Maria del Pilar Cornejo said that 325,000 could be directly affected by an eruption. She said that populated areas to the north and west of Cotopaxi are most at risk. These areas include the city of Latacunga as well as the Los Chillos valley, a suburb of Quito.

Quito Mayor Mauricio Rodas issued a resolution on Monday declaring an emergency in the greater Quito area, which includes Los Chillos.

Although the Geophysical Institute says activity at the volcano has remained steady since yesterday, it reported a new emission of ash and gas about 6 Tuesday morning. The report said that the plume rose to about 1,000 meters above the crater and that strong winds carried it the west.


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