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29 November 2011

Villages near volcano urged to evacuate

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano spews volcanic lava accompanied by large clouds of gas and ash near Banos, about 178km south of Quito.

Quito, Ecuador - Ecuador's government is urging four villages to evacuate because of increased activity in the Tungurahua volcano not far from the country's capital.

Authorities in the South American nation say about 700 people live in the mainly farming communities on the slopes of the volcano in the Andes.

Ecuador's Geophysical Institute says increased activity that began on Sunday is billowing columns of ash, sending superheated clouds of gas down the slopes and cascading hot rocks from the summit.

The agency said Monday that it is recording a gradual accumulation of lava in the mountain.

The 5 023-meter volcano is in a sparsely populated area about 135 kilometres southeast of the capital, Quito. It has been active since 1999.

- Sapa-AP