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January 14, 2010
TUNGURAHUA VOLCANO UPDATE
Patate canton which is located near the volcano operates as a monitoring site for Tungurahua. This past Saturday monitoring equipment was thrown offline due to the electrical system short circuiting. The generators used by the geophysical institute which are ten years old were also having difficulties. This monitoring base contains the computers that decipher the information from the monitoring stations around Tungurahua in preparing reports provided to authorities in charge of emergencies. There are thirty monitoring stations for Tungurahua. This base is being housed in a ranch house provided at no cost by a local family.
The institute is stating current moderate activity with explosions, ash being produced with an upward trend of acitivity. Crops and animals have been affected in hamlets near the volcano. Columns of vapors and gas are being produced to 3 km. Lava can be seen in the crater of the volcano. On Tuesday ash covered parts of Riobamba and explosions could be heard from the volcano.
We are recommending that you remain vigilant in your monitoring of the situation. If you are residing in or going to Baņos we recommend that you have a plan "B" in terms of leaving the area in the event of an emergency. Be aware that tourist vendors and or hotels may downplay the situation. Local businesses and some authorities have been at odds with each other about what the risk is in the area including Baņos and at what level of warning should be posted regarding the volcano. It is a popular destination for both Ecuadorians and tourists and is economically dependent on tourist dollars. We are further concerned about the monitoring situation mentioned above in terms of being able to relay information in a timely manner to officials for emergency happenings. Also, while there is no indication that sabotage is a current risk we would recommend that the monitoring base be checked by those in charge for security. The equipment per news reports including computers are very expensive and mandatory for the safety of the community.
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