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Ecuador Volcanoes’ Energy Building

November 17, 1999

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ Two volcanoes that have been menacing Ecuador for months could erupt violently if they continue accumulating energy that is not released through steam and ash, the nation’s Geophysical Institute warned Tuesday.

Both the Pichincha volcano near this capital city, and the Tungurahua volcano, in Ecuador’s central Andes, have been in an active eruptive process for weeks, scientists say.

But they now are in stages of ``relative calm,″ Geophysical Institute director Hugo Yepez told The Associated Press.

The experts have forecast major eruptions at different times in the last two months, but so far their predictions have not materialized.

Pichincha had two large eruptions of ash the first week of October. The volcano faces away from Quito and is not considered a direct threat to its 1.4 million residents.

Tungurahua volcano, 80 miles south of Quito, ``is giving off a light, but permanent column of steam and smoke,″ Yepez said.

The 17,000 residents of Banos, which sits at the foot of Tungurahua, were evacuated, along with 8,000 people living in a half dozen nearby villages and scattered hamlets on Oct. 16, one month after the volcano awoke from a 79-year slumber.

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