Volcano erupts in Ecuador, residents evacuate

Ash and lava spewed from Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano Saturday, causing people in villages below to be evacuated.

Tungurahu, which means "throat of fire" in Quechua, is about 85 miles southeast of Quito, the country's capital, and has been in an active state since 1999, BBC reported. Experts say seismic activity has been rapidly increasing since Saturday morning.

Authorities have put the area around the volcano under red alert, which was later turned to orange as activity slowed, CNN reported.

Hot gas and rock was seen flowing from the western side of the volcano at mid-morning Saturday, BBC reported. Ash has been falling on the villages of Pondoa and Patate.

The number of explosions has gone up, according to Scientists with the Ecuadorean Institute for Geophysics. The ash cloud has gone 1.2 miles in the air, BBC reported.

The last major eruption occurred in 1999, when 15, 000 Banos residents had to evacuate and could not return to their homes for a year, BBC reported.

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