Quito, Ecuador — An Ecuadorean volcano spewed columns of gas and ash-laden vapor two miles into the sky Wednesday, but authorities said there was no need yet for inhabitants to evacuate.
"At this time we have determined that the situation does not merit a change in the level of alert," Jose Grijalva, director of Ecuador's Civil Defense, told reporters. He said a decision had been made by government agencies to "mobilize personnel, but not to evacuate."
President Alfredo Palacio late Tuesday declared a state of emergency for several communities on the slopes of the 16,550-foot-high Tungurahua volcano.
The decree followed a week of the loudest and most frequent explosions from Tungurahua since it rumbled back to life nearly seven years ago following eight decades of inactivity.
Tungurahua, located about 85 miles south of the capital, Quito, spewed huge columns of ash into the air in October 1999, forcing an evacuation of 17,000 residents of Banos, a tourist town about 4 miles northeast of the crater.