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Tungurahua volcano hurls huge boulders; residents flee area

The glacier-capped, 16,478-foot (5,023-meter) Tungurahua, which means "throat of fire" in the native Quechua language, has been in an active state since 1999.

The authorities in Ecuador evacuated nearly 300 people after the 'Tungurahua' volcano erupted again Friday, emitting molten rocks and large clouds of ash dust.

According to experts, currents of extremely hot gas and rock could be seen spurting from the crater and lava cascading down the flanks of the volcano in a powerful eruption.

Some of the truck sized pyroclastic boulders hurled from the volcano rained down up to 1.2 miles beneath the crater level.

Silvana Hidalgo, a scientist monitoring Tungurahua, stated, “The smallest blocks are the size of an automobile while the biggest reach the size of a truck, which cause impact craters up to 10 meters (33 feet) wide as they hit the flanks.”

According to experts, currents of extremely hot gas and rock could be seen spurting from the crater and lava cascading down the flanks of the volcano in a powerful eruption.

Booms and ash falls reported in surrounding area
The Tungurahua volcano, located in the Sangay National Park, is 140 km south of Quito, Ecuador's capital.

People living in capital city reported the ground and buildings shaking and loud rumbling explosive sounds coming from the volcano that has been in an active state since 1999.

Though the region around Tungurahua is sparsely populated, the residents in the few settlements have fled their homes.

The authorities ordered the closure of most local schools and other public institutions for the third day in a row.

According to civil defense officials, volcanic activity provoked such an intense outpouring of ash that it reached the city of Baños, a tourist spot popular for its hot springs located three miles away from the foot of the volcano.

Authorities have declared an alert and banned tourists from visiting the Tungurahua volcano temporarily.

Tungurahua erupted periodically since 1999
The glacier-capped, 16,478-foot (5,023-meter) Tungurahua, which means "throat of fire" in the native Quechua, language has been in an active state since 1999.

According to the government's emergency management agency, major eruptions in July and August 2006 killed four and left thousands homeless.