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Ecuador Volcano Could Erupt Soon

October 22, 1999

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ An Ecuadorean volcano that’s been emitting smoke and ash for several weeks could erupt within days, a scientist with Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute warned Friday.

``All indications are it could happen within a week or 10 days,″ Geophysical scientist Patricia Mothes said.

The 16,456-foot Tungurahua Volcano, which looms over the now-deserted town of Banos, awoke from a 79-year slumber on Sept. 15, threatening to engulf the popular tourist destination in a major eruption.

In recent days, authorities have evacuated 25,000 people living nearby and closed all roads and trails within 15 miles of the area, famed for its hot springs and trekking.

Mothes, who is monitoring Tungurahua’s activity from a post near the volcano, told The Associated Press eruption could be days away.

The volcano has been spewing a steady column of smoke, ash, and steam into the sky, releasing enormous seismic pressure.

``When the smoke and ash emissions stop, that indicates the conduit has finally closed and then the energy will release violently in eruption,″ Mothes said.

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