Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano quiet after prompting state of emergency
After rumbling and belching ash, the Cotopaxi volcano was silent Sunday, hours after Ecuador declared a state of emergency and fearful residents were evacuated.
“Monitoring of the Cotopaxi volcano last night and this morning indicated no increase in activity,” Ecuador’s Ministry of Security Coordination said in a statement.
The agency is the only source authorized to speak on the matter after Ecuador issued a “preventa- tive censorship,” which President Rafael Correa defended as a means of avoiding false rumors that could unleash panic.
Most of the evacuees live along Cotopaxi province’s river communities and remained in shelters.
The volcano started to stir Friday, registering several small eruptions and angrily shooting plumes of dust and ash 8 kilometers (five miles) into the sky.
Cotopaxi, which towers to 5,897 meters high, is considered one of the most threatening volcanoes in the region — both because of its size and because it is so close to
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Residents in the village of Lasso, which sits within the volcanic zone, took advantage of the relative calm to resume their daily activities.
“Today, it’s very quiet here. I see that businesses have opened and cars are passing by as normal... it was chaos yesterday,” said Jaqueline Sojos, who runs a small hotel in the town.
“From my house, you can see this beautiful ( volcano)... I have never been afraid of it,” the 42- year- old told AFP.
The last time Cotopaxi erupted was in 1877.
On Saturday, residents of various communities left their homes in droves, alarmed by sirens and calls to evacuate to avoid potential avalanches from the volcano’s increased activity.
Hours later, some returned home after authorities ruled out imminent risk.
An estimated 1 million people live in the volcano’s area of influence, which includes parts of Cotopaxi, Napo and Pichincha provinces.
On Saturday, Correa declared a state of emergency for up to 60 days, allowing him to mobilize military and police for security and relief work and freeing up financial resources.
The censorship measures pertained only to communication about the volcano, including on social networks.
Located just 45 kilometers south of the capital Quito, Cotopaxi is one of eight active volcanoes in Ecuador and is a magnet for tourists and hikers. Volcanic activity forced the closure of the nature reserve on which it is located.