Ecuador highest active volcano, the Cotopaxi, spews ash and smoke for hours

Bursts of ash spew from the snow-encircled crater of the Cotopaxi Volcano and fall in gusts on this village where the locals struggle to herd sheep and cattle to safety.
Capped by glaciers, the 19,350-foot (5,987-meter) volcano is one of the world’s most feared due to its location just 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Although officials say there currently is no such risk, a major eruption could hurl rock and mudflows into zones that are home to more than 300,000 people. The government has set a yellow precautionary alert, the lowest of three levels.
Plenty of Ecuadoreans have been on edge since Cotopaxi began belching ash a week ago in columns more than 2 miles high, prompting President Rafael Correa to declare a state of emergency.
On Saturday, explosions inside the volcano caused by magma meeting water sent a cloud of steam and ash more than a half mile (kilometer) above its rim.
A day earlier, the volcano’s penetrating sulfurous gases burned the nose and throat of Marco Toctauano, 32, as he chased a sheep down the mountain.
The surgical mask shielding his nose and mouth was of little help little. The crater is less than 2 miles away.
Posted by http://www.telegraph.co.uk/Cotopaxi

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