Volcano Erupts in Central Ecuador

QUITO — Ecuadorean villagers fled their homes after the Andean country’s “Throat of Fire” volcano erupted Saturday, spewing rocks, gas and ash that prompted officials to declare a maximum alert for nearby communities.

People living within 8 miles of the eruption have been evacuated, Felipe Bazan, a government official for emergency situations, told reporters.

The Tungurahua volcano, which means “Throat of Fire” in Ecuador’s native Quechua language, has been rumbling off and on for more than 10 years since seismic activity began to pick up in the area in 1999.

Located 80 miles southeast of capital city Quito, the 16,500-foot Tungurahua is one of eight active volcanoes in the country.

Parts of Banos, a central Ecuadorean town popular with foreign and local tourists, were among the places evacuated on Saturday.

An eruption of ash from Tungurahua last May caused a one-day shutdown of the international airport at Ecuador’s largest city, Guayaquil. Thousands of people in near the volcano also were evacuated.

In 2006, an eruption buried entire villages and killed at least four people.

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