Tungurahua volcano erupts in Ecuador

Ecuador's Instituto Geofisico EPN has seven webcams focused on Tungurahua volcano. Screengrab from IGEPN webcam

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano erupted early Sunday morning, sending a large plume of gas, stones and ash nearly 45,000 feet into the sky. The plume was visible more than 90 miles northeast, in Ecuador's capital city of Quito.

More than 200 residents were evacuated from the Cusua, Chacauco, and Juive areas. While heavy rains and minor flooding made some of the evacuations difficult, there were no injuries in the 6:47a.m. eruption, local media reported. Authorities declared an "orange alert," the second highest warning level.

The eruption was not a complete surprise, reports VolcanoDiscovery.com, because researchers had measured elevated seismic activity in the area over the past few weeks. But the power of the explosive eruption was greater than anticipated.

Translated from the indigenous language Quecha, Tungurahua means "throat of fire." The volcano is located in the province by the same name, part of the stretch of the Andes that runs through the center of Ecuador. It is part of Sangay National Park, near the popular tourist town of Banos del Ambato.

The Tungurahua volcano has been active since August 19, 1999, following more than 80 years of dormancy.

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    Danielle Elliot is a freelance science editor and reporter for CBS News. She holds an M.A. in science and health journalism from Columbia University and a B.A. in broadcast journalism from the University of Maryland. Follow her on Twitter - @daniellelliot.


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