Agence France-Presse

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano explodes spectacularly, hundreds flee (PHOTOS)

Ecuador’s active Tungurahua volcano erupted Sunday, sending hot gas and rock 3.1 miles into the air — a spectacle which could be seen from the capital of Quito, more than 80 miles away. 

The eruption occurred at 6:47 a.m., local time.

Officials declared an "orange alert," a step below the highest warning, as hundreds of residents from Cusua, Chacauco and Juive were evacuated. Ash from the volcano was reported to have landed on several towns. 

The National Secretariat for Risk Management (SNGR) said in a statement that it "may directly undertake the procurement of goods, provision of services and execution of works" and "provide humanitarian aid and perform all immediate actions required."

Emergency Operations Committees should be kept "on standby for immediate actions required to protect the public and deal with any situation that may give rise to negative by catastrophe is happening," the statement added. 

The 6,480-foot Tungurahua had been dormant for about eight decades, but came back to life in 1999 and has remained an active threat since. 

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