CARE aids evacuees of volcanoes In Ecuador

ATLANTA (December 15, 1999) -- As the threat of eruption continues on the Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador, the international relief and development organization CARE is providing food and household items to hundreds of evacuated families of the Tungurahua province.
CARE's emergency coordinator in Ecuador, Martha Rodriquez, arrived during the evacuations and worked around the clock to help distribute supplies. "These families were evacuated so fast they didn't have time to gather any belongings," says Rodriquez. "At one point, I looked at my watch, it was 11:30 at night and we were still filling shelters with mattresses, blankets, pillows, stoves, gas tanks, pots, plates, hygiene kits, diapers and food."

In the nearby Chimborazo province, CARE will provide tools to evacuees to grow crops in greenhouses provided by the Government. "It was so inspiring to see women and men working so hard to build these greenhouses," says Rodriquez. "While the tomatoes, beans and corn will grow over the next three to four months, other international organizations working with CARE will be providing these people with food and agriculture training."

One hundred miles away in the capital of Quito, the Pinchincha volcano continues to send heavy showers of ash down on the city of 1.5 million people. The 15,840-foot Pinchincha awoke from 339 years of inactivity last year and over the past ten weeks has emitted a series of explosions, seismic tremors and volcanic bursts.

"Already, CARE has provided meals, hygiene kits and other items to more than 1,000 people evacuated from Lloa community," explains Rodriquez, who is based in CARE's central office in Quito. "In the event of a full-blown eruption, CARE, working with the Ecuadorian Red Cross, stands ready to provide food and other provisions."

Scientists say that Quito is not likely to be in the direct path of lava flows, but nearby communities like Lloa that face the crater have been evacuated as a precaution. CARE staff also reported that most residents of Quito are covering their faces with cloth or masks to protect against respiratory infections, during occasional showers of ash.

CARE will continue to monitor both situations and to provide assistance wherever needed.