Ecuador: Tungurahua Volcano OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2006/0125
OCHA Situation Report No. 1
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) and media reports.


1. According to the National Geophysical Institute of Ecuador, on Friday 14 July starting at 5 p.m. local time, the volcanic activity of the Tungurahua Volcano increased alarmingly. The volcano is located 135 km southeast of Quito with an altitude of 5,106 meters. The last major eruption occurred in October 1999.

2. On Friday, several strong explosions, an ash column of 6km, and pyroclastic flows in the Juive Grande rift were registered. Incandescent blocks were expelled 500m from the crater; extremely strong rumblings and tremors were also reported.

3. According to the Civil Defence's latest figures more than 3,600 people have been evacuated from the highest risk areas near the volcano.


4. Ash fall was registered in Puela and continuous and moderate tremors were felt in Cusúa, 14 km north from the volcano. Intense activity continues with expulsions of incandescent blocks and abundant ash fall in areas to the west of the volcano. Pyroclastic flows and incandescent blocks have been reported in the Achupashal rift between Cusúa and Bilbao. Heavy ash and pumice stone falls occurred in the cities of Penipe, Quero, Cevallos, Mocha, Riobamba, and Guaranda. Affected provinces are: Tungurahua, Chimborazo, and Bolívar, the most affected one being Chimborazo.

5. On Saturday 15 July, the volcano's activity became variable, the most intense phase lasted until midnight, and afterwards intensity slightly decreased, still accompanied by continuous explosions and tremors. At 0:59 a.m. the largest explosion, since the volcano started its eruption process in 1999, was registered. Similar explosions followed in the early morning of Sunday 16 July. From 05:00 a.m. onwards, large explosions occurred every 30 to 40 minutes.

6. No deaths have been reported.

National response

7. The Provincial Emergency Operation Committee in Tungurahua and Chimborazo is addressing the emergency with the support of the National Police, the Army and local authorities. Cantonal Emergency Operation Committees have been activated in Tisaleo, Cevallos, Quero, Mocha, Pelileo, and Baños in Tungurahua, as well as in Penipe and Guano in Chimborazo. Specific cluster working groups have been established regarding food, health and agriculture.

8. According to the Ecuadorian Red Cross, in the aftermath of the eruption, 280 persons from Cusúa, Bilbao, San Juan, and Pillate in Tungurahua province were evacuated and placed in four temporary shelters in Pelileo. Children make up about 60% of the evacuated population. Immediate needs were for food and masks. According to the Civil Defense in the province of Chimborazo approximately 739 families had to be evacuated and placed in two shelters in Penipe on 14 July.

9. The Ecuadorian Red Cross has distributed 4,000 masks, 600 protective glasses and 500 doses of physiological serum as well as first aid items to the affected population. The Red Cross also deployed a psychological support team as well as telecom experts.

10. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, livestock and crops have been severely damaged.

11. The Ecuadorian President, Alfredo Palacio, flew over the affected area on Sunday morning and decided to renew the decree establishing a state of emergency. The President also announced the allocation of USD 4,9 million for the relief effort, to be administered by the Civil Defense.

International response

12. The UNETE (United Nations Emergency Technical Team) is active since Friday 14 July at 10 p.m., and continues to coordinate with provincial authorities, the Civil Defense, and the Ecuadorian Red Cross. The UNCT is continuously being briefed on the situation.

13. Depending on the evolution of the emergency, an interagency assessment mission could be undertaken in the coming days.

14. WHO/PAHO is assessing the health situation, in coordination with the Ministry of Health. Contingency health plans have been activated in the affected areas and a health situation room set up in the province of Tungurahua. Quick Response Teams have also been activated. A WHO/PAHO group of experts arrived on Sunday morning in order to coordinate with the local authorities of Tungurahua and Chimborazo provinces.

15. On Sunday 16 July WFP, in coordination with the Civil Defense, delivered 750 food rations to the Civil Defense warehouse in Tungurahua. On a first phase, food distributions will take place in Tungurahua and Chimborazo.

16. The Governmental social feeding program, "Alimentate Ecuador", will deliver 600 food rations. The food cluster is operating in close coordination with the Government.

17. UNICEF, in coordination with the Ecuadorian Red Cross, will supply pedagogical material for children in shelters.

18. UNHCR has offered to provide 150 family tents.

19. OCHA remains in close contact with the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ecuador and will provide further information as it becomes available.

20. This situation report, together with additional information on other ongoing emergencies, is also available on

MAP: Ecuador: Tungurahua volcano - Situation map

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

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

Desk Officer:

Ms. Isabel Garcia-Gill
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. +1-917-367 51 26


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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