Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano has spewed a 6-mile column of ash after a powerful, five-minute explosion that shot pyroclastic material onto its northern and northwestern flanks.
Ecuador’s geophysics institute said Friday’s blast occurred at 6:10 p.m. local time and was followed by a second, four-minute explosion and five lesser tremors. Two more less intensive explosions followed.
Pedro Espín, spokesman at the Volcano Tungurahua Observatory (OVT) said that the lava flows did not reach the populated area. The danger, he said was ashfall in the surrounding communities of Pillate, Cotaló and Chacauco in Tungurahua Province and Bilbao and Chonglontus in Chimborazo Province.
The most serious problem with ashfall in the effect on livestock and crops. The governments has stockpiled hay for cattle and sheep in case the ash covers grazing land.
The 5,023-meter (16,480-foot) volcano, 90 miles south of Quito and 130 miles north of Cuenca, revived on Feb. 1, with eruptions that affected a third of Ecuador’s provinces and temporarily closed Cuenca’s regional airport.
Tungurahua has been erupting sporadically since 1999. In 2006, a pyroclastic cloud killed four people and left two missing.
Photo caption: The Tungurahua volanco during its last eruption in February, seen from Ambato.