Cotopaxi volcano near Ecuador’s capital Quito could affect about 325,000 people if there is a major eruption, local authorities said Monday. Cotopaxi rumbled Saturday and shot ashes over two miles high, prompting evacuation of about 400 people.
The volcano, located 30 miles from Quito, can melt the snowcap of Andes Mountains and trigger floods and mud flows that can sweep through nearby towns, Ecuador's top disaster official, Maria del Pilar Cornejo, said, according to Agence France Presse (AFP). The country’s Geophysical Institute listed the status of Cotopaxi volcano as “actively erupting” Monday.
"No pyroclastic eruption have taken place, so there are no lava flows," Ecuador’s Security Minister Cesar Navas told AFP. However, he added that "there is evidence of fluid moving inside the volcano, as well as gas and magma."
On Saturday, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency, following an increased activity of the volcano.
Cotopaxi volcano, which recorded its last major eruption in 1877, began showing renewed activity in April this year. Cotopaxi is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. A huge eruption of the Cotopaxi volcano would result in the flow of ice from its glacier and destroy settlements in the region. The volcano has erupted 50 times since 1738.