Ecuador Declares State of Emergency as Volcano Spews Ash

Volcanic Activity Officially Considered an Emergency

On Friday, the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador experienced more activity than it had in well over a century. Initially, people were told that it was not time to panic due to the explosions. Today, however, officials are telling a much different story. Rafael Correa, the Ecuadorian president, has decided to declare a state of emergency for the country directly tied to the sudden increase in volcanic activity. Besides the obvious safety precautions Ecuador residents should take, this decree is also due in large part to a declaration allowing more flexibility in remedying the situation with government funds.

Cotopaxi Has Been Under Watch For Months

Ecuador has actually been keeping an eye on Cotopaxi for a little while now. The Ecuadorian Geophysics Institute noticed a worrying increase in activity around June and has been actively monitoring it ever since. Any activity would make Ecuador monitor Cotopaxi, no matter how small. Cotopaxi’s glacial cover allows for a much faster volcanic flow of rock and mud. As such, it’s considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the entire world. Any visible activity would inevitably lead to a state of emergency on the part of Ecuador.

Volcanic Eruptions Traveled to Ecuador’s Capital

Arguably, the tipping point in Ecuador declaring a state of emergency was the distance traveled for the Cotopaxi eruption. The eruptions began very early Friday morning, and since then the distance has been astonishing. Ash has been shot upwards of two miles into the sky. Because of that height, gray powdered ash has found its way onto the roads, cars, and homes of Ecuador residents upwards of 30 miles north. That is dangerously close to, if not actually in the Ecuador capital of Quito. With relatively small explosions traveling that far, a state of emergency was needed lest volcanic activity continue and lead to an even larger eruption.

Shutdowns and Evacuations

The park in Ecuador that surrounds Cotopaxi is not currently accessible to visit. Similarly, authorities are not allowing mountaineers to climb Cotopaxi’s snow-capped peak. While Cotopaxi continues to be monitored, a few hundred people have been evacuated from nearby residential areas to avoid being hit by the volcanic ash.