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Ecuador Building for Volcano Victims

August 23, 2006

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ Authorities began building 300 houses Tuesday for some of the thousands of people who lost their homes in last week’s volcanic eruption in central Ecuador.

``The homes will be turned over in 90 days and, in principle, will benefit 300 families that have been seriously affected and have nowhere to go,″ said Juan Salazar, mayor of Penipe, located 12 miles from the 16,575-foot Tungurahua volcano.

Salazar said the remaining people ``had already been relocated, some people in Riobamba and others in the homes of relatives.″

The eruption of Tungurahua, located about 85 miles south of the capital, Quito, killed four people and destroyed 10 villages, leaving 5,000 people homeless. Tens of thousands of acres of pasture and crops were also destroyed, according to the Civil Defense.

Oswaldo Proano, a spokesman for the Red Cross, told Radio Bolivar ``the situation in the villages affected by the eruption ... is difficult since all the water for human consumption is contaminated with ash.″

Officials said tanker trucks were helping to solve water problems but donations of bottled water were still needed.

Marcelo Villagomez, Civil Defense coordinator of the province of Chimborazo, said there were sufficient stores of food and water to last 15 days and requests have been made for additional supplies.

Economy Minister Armando Rodas said the government had transferred $17 million in emergency relief to the region.

The eruption was the 14th time Tungurahua has sent hot lava and ash onto villages on its flanks since its first recorded eruption in 1534. After remaining dormant for eight decades, Tungurahua rumbled back to life in 1999 and has been active ever since.

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