Ecuador's President Rafael Correa said he would declare a state of emergency in response to the stirrings of Cotopaxi volcano. Several villages deemed at high risk have already been evacuated.
"We will declare a state of emergency based on the activity of the Cotopaxi volcano. Why have I made that decision? To secure resources ... to address a potential emergency and mobilize the necessary resources," Correa said in his weekly address, according to RTE news.
Declaring a state of emergency — or a state of exception, as it is called in Ecuador — allows Correa to access resources and to deploy the military in aid of communities affected by the volcano, AFP reports.
Residents in towns and river settlements in Cotopaxi province, some 45 kilometers (28 miles) south of the capital Quito, have been told to clear out as a precaution, said Pablo Morillo, head of the Secretariat for Risk Management.
No landslides have been reported yet, and Morillo emphasized that the evacuations already completed were a precautionary measure. When Cotopaxi erupted in 1877, muddy debris traveled more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).
The volcano, which is 5,897 meters high, is considered one of the most threatening in the region due to its size and proximity to populated areas.
Cotopaxi registered several eruptions yesterday, spewing ash columns as high as 8 km (5 miles) into the sky. Before that, CNN reports that Cotopaxi last erupted in 1940, citing the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program.