Volcano's ash falls across Quito's outskirts
Quito has been under an alert since Monday night to guard against an
eruption of the Guagua Pichincha volcano.
Houses, trees and cars in the capital's southern district were blanketed
with silty ash spit up by the volcano during a brief eruption just before
"There was no explosion," geophysical scientist Darwin Villagomez said.
Many city residents in the affected areas walked the streets Wednesday
morning with their faces covered by surgical masks and handkerchiefs.
Officials have downplayed the danger to Quito in the face of a major
The Pichincha volcano has two smaller cone peaks, Guagua Pichincha
and the inactive Rucu Pichincha.
Because Guagua Pichincha's crater faces away from Quito, any eruption
would burst north, west and south, sparing the capital city, authorities say.
Civil defense and military units started evacuations Tuesday of campesinos
three villages vulnerable to lava flows on the northern, western and southern
slopes of the volcano.
Guagua Pichincha's last major eruption was in 1660, when it spewed ash
nine days but killing no one, according to Spanish records.