October 17, 1999

Evacuations ordered as Ecuadorean volcano threatens

                  BANOS, Ecuador (CNN) -- The Ecuadorean government has ordered
                  the evacuation of some 25,000 people from a popular tourist town as
                  a nearby volcano continues to spew ash and appears on the verge of a
                  major eruption.

                  Government authorities said there is an 80 percent chance the 16,278 feet
                  (5,020 meter) Tungurahua Volcano, which towers over the scenic town 75
                  miles (120 kilometers) south of the capital, Quito will erupt within the next
                  few days. The Ecuadorean Red Cross said the area was put on alert
                  Saturday after monitors logged increased seismic activity.

                  What had been a voluntary evacuation was made mandatory with a deadline
                  of Sunday afternoon. Officials said about half of those affected have already
                  left. Those not heeding the order will be forcibly removed. The towns of
                  Penipe, Puela, and Bilboa also are included in the evacuation order.

                  The volcano has already covered the surrounding areas with a blanket of
                  ash. Officials said an estimated 40,000 chickens have died from respiratory

                  Ecuador President Jamil Mahuad flew over the
                  crater and says he's very concerned an eruption
                  is imminent.

                  The live volcano is one of several attractions which makes Banos one of the
                  countries most visited tourist attractions. Visitors come from around the
                  world to experience its hot springs, waterfalls and tumbling green slopes.