Ecuador: Tungurahua Volcano OCHA Situation Report No. 5

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 18 Aug 2006
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2006/158
OCHA Situation Report No. 5
Tungurahua Volcano - Ecuador

This situation report is based on information provided by the office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Ecuador, the United Nations Country Team (UNCT), IFRC and media reports.

Situation

1. According to the National Geophysical Institute of Ecuador, on 16 August volcanic activity increased alarmingly, the volcano begun its eruption on the morning and its activity intensified overnight. Explosions continue to produce abundant and massive clouds of ash, steam and gas (approximately 8 km of altitude), as well as abundant lava and pyroclastic flows.

2. Huge incandescent rocks and volcanic material descended through Achupashal, Cusúa, Mandur, Bascún, Juive Grande and La Hacienda rifts. Volcanic material was also reported in Baños.

3. About 3,700 people have been evacuated from the slopes of the Tungurahua volcano. Massive clouds of ash have covered entire communities; people fled the area with their belongings strapped to their backs and their livestock trailing behind. Troops helped the evacuation from the volcano.

4. So far, authorities have reported that at least five people died, approximately 50 persons are missing and 13 others were injured. Respiratory infections have also been treated.

Impact & Needs

5. Volcanic material that descended through Achupashal rift blocked the rivers Chambo and Puela producing a dam and putting at risk several communities. The main road from Baños to Riobamba is blocked by volcanic material as well as the main road leading from Ambato to Baños. Also significant amounts of gravel and ash have been reported in Penipe, Pelileo, Cevallos, San Juan, Cotaló, and Pillate.

6. Electricity has been interrupted in Baños and Puyo; volcanic material has destroyed several houses, others have been flooded because of the Puela river dam, and others were on fire. The sewage system in Puela has collapsed, and Riobamba's sewage system is at risk.

7. Farmers have lost cattle and crops as pastures and crops have been totally destroyed by the massive ash fall.

8. The provinces of Los Ríos and Bolívar have also been severely affected by ash fall. Portoviejo in Manabí province and Guayaquil in Guayas province have been slightly affected by ash fall. The airports of Guayaquil and Cuenca have closed its operations.

National response

9. The National Civil Defense is giving a broad support to the local Emergency Operations Committees and Civil Defence in the affected areas, which have been mobilized massively already for several weeks.

10. The Ecuadorian Red Cross (ERC) continues to assess the affected areas and shelters, updating information. An ERC rescue team, six ambulances, five pick-ups and one truck were deployed to Tungurahua's province early in the morning of 16 August, a few hours after the beginning of the eruption.

11. According to the Civil Defense 80 persons from Baños have been placed in a shelter in Mera (Pastaza province). This shelter requires food, mattresses and blankets. Most of the evacuated persons are still living with relatives or friends. 200 volunteers are assisting the shelters.

International response

12. UNETE (The UN Emergency Technical Team) continues to coordinate with provincial authorities, Civil Defense, and the Ecuadorian Red Cross. UNCT is being informed continuously on the situation.

13. UN security phase 1 has been declared in the provinces of Tungurahua, Chimborazo, Bolívar and Pastaza.

14. UNETE continues to coordinate activities with international and local NGOs, and is also working on the elaboration of an early recovery strategy for the provinces of Chimborazo and Tungurahua.

15. WFP in coordination with Contingency Committee will deliver 650 food rations to shelters in Tungurahua and Pastaza.

16. This situation report, together with additional information on other ongoing emergencies, is also available on http://www.reliefweb.int.

MAP: Ecuador: Tungurahua volcano - Situation map

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officer:

Ms. Isabel Garcia-Gill
E-mail: garcia-gill@un.org
Direct Tel: +41 22 917 15 49

Press contact:

(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Direct Tel. + 41-22-917 2653
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Direct Tel. +1-917-892 1669

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.